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This morning the Portland Timbers held their first practice since Sunday's traumatizing 3-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders.
Training, held at the team's Beaverton training facility, was a closed session. The team started off with their usual warm ups and games of keep away before breaking off into groups of eight who either played games of 4v4 or ran under the supervision of fitness coach John Ireland.
Injuries and Absences
Kalif Alhassan was back in practice for the first time in several weeks today and participated in the games of 4v4. Alhassan has been dealing with patellar tendinitis but looked fit and happy to be back on the pitch before practice was closed. Assistant coach Sean McAuley told the press after practice that Alhassan was being closely monitored by the trainers in his return to the pitch.
Lovel Palmer and Rodney Wallace both left on Monday for their respective national team camps and were not at practice today. Steve Purdy, who was not going to be on the game day roster against Seattle last weekend, left to join the El Salvadoran national team last week.
Ian Hogg and Chris Taylor were the only players not out on the pitch today, although both were at the practice facility rehabilitating from their injuries. Hogg's ankle sprain, suffered in practice ahead of the DC game, will keep him out until close to the end of the season, while Chris Taylor is out for the rest of the year after undergoing hip surgery. Taylor, who has been around practice regularly for the last few weeks, is walking with almost no limp now.
Kris Boyd, who is projected to miss the rest of the season with an adductor strain, was out on the pitch doing some jogging and stretching separate from the rest of the team today (although Steven Smith did chip a few balls into his path).
Hanyer Mosquera and Steven Smith, both of whom were still dealing with injuries this weekend, participated in training today.
Trialists and Guest Players
Mobi Fehr and Cam Vickers were the only non-roster players with the team today.
On the timing of the break after such a bad loss
"You always want to play, especially after a defeat, because you want to reflect on it and then move forward as fast as you can, but it also gives us a chance to maybe get some work in and prepare for the next one in a different way when we have more time with the players."
On if the team needs to play more than it needs to train
"Yeah, but everybody is in the same boat with that one and I think that everyone understands the fixture list at the start of the season and you know that you have got breaks in it where you can do a little bit of extra training. That's where the planning comes in and where preparation comes in and you have to deal with these breaks. Hopefully we can deal with it effectively and get some preparation for the following game."
On if training needs to contain more game-like situations
"I think that what we need to make sure that we do is to make sure that we have the right physical requirements in because if they are missing playing time on a game then we need to make sure that we replicate that in the training environment so that they can go into the following game fully fit. We can use this week as an opportunity to get the amount of training and the physical requirement that they need, but you can never replace a game."
On the team's reaction to the Seattle match
"It was a terrible trip for us. It was one that you can't forget. We may use that as an opportunity to motive the players because I don't think it is one that you sweep under the carpet, although you don't want to reflect on negatives too long because they can become the thing that kills you. It was a terrible trip though and we need to motivate ourselves to make sure that we are right to go at it against the other rivals."
On if the team will be working on anything differently during the break
"What we need to do is make sure that the players get enough touches on the ball to feel comfortable and confident going in to the next game. It is very difficult to start the actual team preparations this week because we don't know what the team is going to be. We are still ten days away from it and you might get injuries, you might get illness, and we are obviously looking at the ten day break as an opportunity for other people to show form. We are coming off a bad performance and we need to make sure that we get it right for the next game."
On if there are any challenges motivating the team to play Vancouver
"The players know where they are at. The players know what responsibility they have got toward the team and the organization. They have got the opportunity to go out and put right what was wrong at the weekend, so we are quite fortunate that we have that big game for the next game."
On Kalif Alhassan
"Kalif was, it was the first day back in training for him so I would say he is still in a recovery process and that was some football work to help with his rehabilitation. Like everybody who is coming back from injury, your first couple of sessions are ones that you report back to the physio rather than the coach because we need to make sure that he is fully healthy if we are going to pick him for the next game."
On the overall health of the team
"They have given a lot this season, I think, and I think that they all have little injuries where they could be considered not absolutely one hundred percent fit, but we are fortunate that we have got a fantastic medical team here, so they are able to make sure that everybody is as fit as they absolutely can be to go onto the pitch. I think across the world if you look at any footballer they are always carrying something because they are playing two games a week sometimes and it is very difficult to repair the body that quickly in order to be one hundred percent fit for every game. We are quite fortunate that the medical staff here are fantastic and every time we put the eleven on pitch they are the best condition that they can be."