The Timbers practice today was an uneventful one on the field but saw several developments on the sidelines. Once again Jose Adolfo Valencia was missing from practice which was yet again explained as being further fitness testing. John Spencer went on to say that as soon as he was done testing we would see him back on the field. Spencer did refuse to say if there was anything wrong with Valencia.
Brent Richards also sat out of practice today although he was present at the field. A slight "tweak" to his quad held him out of full training as the Timbers staff decided not to take any chances. Other than Richards there were not changes in personnel from yesterday.
Spencer also took a moment to clarify a quote from Eddie Johnson about Spencer giving him a hard time for wearing protective headgear at the end of last season. Coach Spencer made it clear that he takes concussions very seriously and that any hard time he gave Eddie was to lift his spirits.
On the field the Timbers focused today on keeping possession, playing a series of games of keep away that gradually increased in size, culminating in games of half field 8v8 keep away. In the middle of practice the team broke into groups and played 8v3 keep away with one of the eight playing in the center. During this drill, whenever a team had Freddie Braun in the middle they had very little trouble keeping possession against the three defenders. Freddie looks stronger than last season and was very successful in holding off defenders and getting a clean pass away under pressure.
More training notes and quotes from John Spencer after the jump.
During the 8v8 drills players had less of a chance to stand out than yesterday as there was no shooting on goal to be done. However, like yesterday, Jorge Perlaza impressed with his skill on the ball and sudden bursts of speed to get free of his marker. He looks to be in good shape and not struggling as he was by the end of last season while playing with an injury.
After practice Mike Chabala, Chris Taylor, and Brendan King stuck around and crossed balls in to Bright Dike while Eric Alexander and Steve Purdy worked on their passing. Dike continues to look like he could have a breakout year, putting several nice headers and shots on frame. Doug Herrick filled in after practice in the goal and, while not making any miraculous stops against Dike, did save most of what was savable. King had some nice crosses from the right, particularly considering he is primarily a left wing.
On Brent Richards staying on the sidelines during practice
The truth of it is, there's quite a lot of work. We try to tend, a little bit, to err on the side of caution rather than just pushing them through it so we just need to make sure that he is all right. You know it is a different standard, coming from playing at the college level to the demand of the professional game. He just tweaked his quad a little bit so [we will] err on the side of caution.
He's pumped up for this opportunity. He comes from the area. He's grown up through Eastside and supported the Timbers through division two. [There is] a lot of anxiety and a lot of pressure on the young guys coming in so it is important that you try to take it easy with them. Going from training two or three months a year and playing two or three months a year to the demands that we have here on a daily basis, and probably most clubs in Major League Soccer [have], is a hell of a jump. So it is important that, why would we want push him and have him tear a quad and be out for six weeks? That does nobody any favors, so it is important that we look after him properly.
On his impressions of Brent
I've seen him playing with our PDL team and I've seen hime playing in college. He's a super young talent so the main aim is to keep him here for a long time and make it as enjoyable experience and help him have the best career as possible.
On Eddie Johnson's concussions last season
We have been told that if you rest the correct amount of time and let the concussion heal, there is no higher risk to get another one. I wouldn't care less if a doctor gave me a one hundred percent clearance [if ]Eddie said to me he didn't feel good. If it was the MLS cup final and Eddie scored twenty five goals that year, Eddie wouldn't play. It doesn't matter how important the game is, Eddie, and his future with his family, is more important to me.
He has told me he is fine, he has passed all the tests. We have got tremendous doctors here who have done all the tests that are required and he says that he is fine. We take no chances with any of our players with any injuries. I'm over-careful, like with Brent, I'm over-careful when it comes to anything. If a guy is not one hundred percent fit and he is hesitating in training or in games, I shut them down.
On camp so far
It's great. If you can't enjoy this part of the job, coming out here, standing in this magnificent arena, and playing a game of football, getting yourself fit and working out there is something wrong with your head. We've got a great bunch of guys, good professionals. As I say, American players, they're a credit to the game because they do work their socks off in the off season and come back in tremendous condition spot makes your job easier as a coach.
On his second preseason with the Timbers
Do you know Merritt Paulson? Nothing's ever easy, man. Anything that is worth having doesn't come easy. We have got high standards here, our fans are tremendous, we've got great support behind us.
We keep that door open (the locker room entrance). I sit in there pre-game and the coaching staff do the warm-up and it just fills you with passion. They drive me on, the fans. I've spoken of it before. There is pressure all the time. It doesn't get any easier. Success is not easy to achieve and we know that this year is going to be another big test for us and we are looking forward to it.
On today's practice
It is just trying to mix it up. The guys are in decent shape, you know, but I am trying to emphasize that if we do our running in the small sided games and the possession games then we don't need to do as much just running exercises. I think you can do a lot of exercises where you are disguising the running a little bit and that is what we wanted to do today just to keep them fresh because it is a long preseason. Vitas I say, the guys are in tremendous shape.
On Jose Adolfo Valencia's status
He's going thorough medicals. When you invest that much money in players it is important you cross all the t's and dot the i's and look at every bone in his body. For us we are just making sure that everything is one hundred percent. As soon as he has completed his medicals, he will be back on the field.
On if there is anything wrong with Valencia
Even if there was, [John Strong], I don't think I would be telling you.
I also had a chance to talk with Rodney Wallace and Brendan King but transcription takes forever and I have to head to class. Expect those quotes as soon as possible.