Portland Timbers Training Notes & Quotes: Day Five Edition

Fitness continued to be the focus for the Portland Timbers as they neared the end of their first week of preseason training in 2012. The sun shone brightly on the turf and allowed some players to shed their extra layers. Again the players participated in an 8v8 half field scrimmage after warming up and doing a few drills, but the consistent theme throughout the session was keeping everyone constantly in motion.

As everyone and their mother knows by now, Jose Adolfo Valencia was absent for the third straight day, and all we know about his condition is the few quotes extracted from Gavin Wilkinson & Co and the ad nauseum speculation on Twitter and here on Stumptown Footy. Brent Richards was present but sat out of practice again today, still recovering from the quad tweak he suffered earlier in the week.

Jack Jewsbury was absent as well, as he and his wife are expecting a child. He was reportedly at the hospital during the Timbers practice today, so we wish the Captain and his family the best and hope to hear about a new Little Timber soon.

Noting those exceptions, everyone else was present and active in training today. More training notes after the jump.

8v8 Observations

While two sets of eight duked it out on the scrimmage field, the remaining players kept moving, running back and forth across the width of the field. Every player in training was running constantly, with just a few breaks of more than a few seconds, for the duration of the session.

Goals were pretty hard to come by for any side of the scrimmage, the fifth straight day of training perhaps affecting players' stamina. Jorge Perlaza earned most of the chances, but continued to have some trouble finding the net, although he still outscored everyone else on the pitch. He did also have a nifty assist of Kalif Alhassan -- Steve Purdy served him a cross from the right flank, which he beautifully flicked back to Kalif waiting on the left side of the goal area for the easy finish. More passing like that in the penalty area will serve the team well.

For his part, Alhassan showed the quickness we saw on display early in 2011, but he sometimes appeared to have trouble getting on the same page as his teammates. With the exception of his combination with Perlaza, of course.

Another standout in the scrimmage was Franck Songo'o, known by his teammates now as "Frankie." He controls the ball well, passes and crosses effectively, and shows off some fancy footwork. His play didn't lead to goals today, and he and his teammates seemed to cut each other off occasionally, but he looks like a really strong contender, as long as an international slot is available for him.

Quotes

John Spencer did not come out to talk to the relatively small media representation in attendance today. Interpreter Extraordinaire Oswaldo Bernal was on the scene today, though, so we got a chance to talk to some of the Spanish speaking players again.

I'm working on a more substantial story to be posted tomorrow about the challenges the Colombian players face trying to succeed in MLS and live in the United States, so you'll get to learn a bit more about them tomorrow. One teaser, though: Chara's favorite restaurant in Portland: Applebees. Go easy on him.

Hanyer Mosquera

On the preseason training so far

The workouts have been quite different from what I was used to back in Colombia, but I think that's what it's all about, working hard and getting ready to have a really good season. Mainly, it's the mobility, the way the practice goes -- they challenge us to go hard at practice. I actually kind of like it -- I demand a lot of myself, I like to be challenged.

On his communication with Chara before signing

He told me about how beautiful the city is, how very well organized the league and the team in particular is, how not only the team, but the fans, media and everybody, work together towards the same goal, and that was a really exciting thing for me to hear. That helped me in my decision to come here.

Diego Chara

On the preseason training so far

It's been hard, obviously the first week, but we knew it was going to be this way while we start getting into a rhythm.

On the prospects for his second year in MLS

I think it's going to be easier. As far as the MLS, I have adapted to the way of playing, the speed of play. And in terms of the family, they are all here, and I think they have adapted well to the city.

Jorge Perlaza

On the preseason training so far

I think it's a good start of the preseason, everyone has prepared really hard.

On the team's second year in MLS

I think the experience that we had last year was great, I think we're going into this year with a little more confidence. I know my teammates, they know me, we know what the other teams play, we know how the other players on the other teams play, and I think that's going to help us prepare for a better season. The important thing for us is to keep a good effort going every game, so we can all contribute to the benefit of the team.

Our main goal is to make it to the playoffs -- we were really close last season, and our goal is to be in the first three positions in our group so we can make the playoffs.

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