Portland Preseason Tournament Preview: AIK
Back from a preseason stint in Tucson, Ariz., the Portland Timbers now gear up for their second annual preseason tournament at JELD-WEN Field with the San Jose Earthqukes, FC Dallas, and Sweden's AIK all in attendance. Taking place on Feb. 17, 20 and 23, each day includes a double-header of matches with all teams playing each other once in a round-robin format. Tickets start at $10.00.
This week in the lead up to the matches, PortlandTimbers.com will take a look at each of the Timbers' upcoming opponents, see what changes have been made since last season, and what to keep an eye on when they come to Portland. Last in the series is Swedish club AIK.
AIK, the 11-time Swedish champions, return to Portland for the second straight year in the Portland preseason tournament. Playing their season with nearly the same calendar as MLS, AIK finished the 2012 Allsvenskan in fourth place, just missing out on a coveted qualifying spot in the 2013-14 UEFA Europa League competition. The top five spots in the league were separated by a mere seven-point difference, which is an example of the league’s parity, as it’s not dominated by one or two clubs every year. The Stockholm-based club advanced to the group stages of the 2012-13 Europa League, but couldn’t progress through to the knockout rounds.
Led by Costa Rican forward Celso Borges with eight goals during the 2012 season, the club had a balanced scoring chart with 14 different goal scorers during the year. Viktor Lundberg, a 21-year-old attacking midfielder chipped in with five goals and a team-high five assists. The 121-year-old club last won the Allsvenskan in 2009, capturing the Svenska Cupen that same year.
Several notable players have pulled on the AIK jersey including former Swedish internationals Erik Edman, Olof Mellberg, Magnus Hedman and Anders Limpar – who also suited up for the Colorado Rapids for two season (1999, 2000). Ghanaian international midfielder Derek Boateng also played for AIK from 2003-06.
2012 Allsvenskan Season
Record (W-L-T): 15-5-10, 55pts (Fourth in Allsvenskan)
Cup competitions: Lost in the 2012 Swedish Super Cup (2-0 against Helsingborgs IF); awaiting the start of group stages in the 2012-13 Svenska Cupen which begins on March 2; Advanced to the group stages of the 2012-13 UEFA Europa League competition, but did not qualify for the knockout rounds, placing fourth in Group F alongside Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, Napoli and PSV Eindhoven.
Leading goal scorer: Celso Borges (8)
Leading assists: Viktor Lundberg (5)
Head coach: Andreas Alm
Feb. 8 – 0-1 L vs. Ventura County Fusion (at Oxnard Community College, Oxnard, Calif.)
The Portland Preseason tournament marks the real start of AIK’s preseason calendar. The club is currently in the midst of a three-week training camp, which saw the club arrive in Los Angeles on Feb. 4 and train in California before heading to the Rose City. The 2013 Allsvenskan season begins on March 31, with the group stages of the 2012-13 Svenska Cupen set to run from March 2-17.
2013 Timbers Preseason Tournament Schedule for AIK
Feb. 17 vs. FC Dallas (2:30 p.m. PT)
Feb. 20 vs. San Jose (5 p.m. PT)
Feb. 23 vs. Portland (5 p.m. PT, streamed at www.portlandtimbers.com)