Today's practice was closed but short as the team took it easy before heading to Vancouver. While the players who will be traveling today left the pitch early, a number of players who will likely be staying home continued practicing, playing a short field game and making use of small goals in the absence of any keepers. Most of the group still out and practicing were the usual younger players along with Kris Boyd, Futty Danso, and Kalif Alhassan, the only players that have seen significant time in the eighteen this year that took part in the game.
Injuries and Absences
Boyd continued training with the team today and stayed on the pitch through the entire practice. Boyd participated in the short field game that took place at the end of practice for the players that would not be involved in tomorrow's match and looked lively on the pitch, making his possible return against San Jose seem probable.
Ian Hogg warmed up with the team for the second day in a row today. After warm ups were concluded, Hogg broke off to run laps around the field and work on his fitness while the rest of the team played games of keep away. Hogg is coming off a rolled ankle suffered in practice a month ago.
Chris Taylor, who did his first jogging around the pitch yesterday since coming back from hip surgery, was not on the field at practice today.
Trialists and Guest players
Cam Vickers and Dustin Corea both continued practicing with the team today.
Line Up Speculation
Although Gavin Wilkinson talked earlier in the week about evaluating returning internationals Rodney Wallace and Lovel Palmer, I think we will see Kosuke Kimura and Steven Smith as outside backs against Vancouver. I am going to hedge my bets a little here and say that Palmer, who had two solid outings for Jamaica in World Cup qualifying last week, could continue at right back but I think that concerns about fatigue will keep him on the bench as a sub.
Additionally, we will see a switch at center back with Futty staying home. Hanyer Mosquera will likely take his spot back in the center of the defense, but I have doubts that he is fully fit so it is possible that we could see an Eric Brunner/David Horst tandem at the back for the Timbers.
In the midfield things are fairly settled with the main question being the positioning of Darlington Nagbe and Franck Songo'o. With the Whitecaps dangerous winger Dane Richards back from a two goal game with Jamaica, I think Nagbe will stay on the outside and help provide defensive cover for Smith.
Here is my best guess at the starting line-up:
Ricketts, Kimura, Horst, Mosco, Smith, Jewsbury, Chara, Nagbe, Songo'o, Zizzo, Dike
And the bench:
Bendik, Brunner, Palmer, Wallace, Alexander, Fucito, Mwanga (I think Brent Richards will make the trip as well)
On what the team needs to do to win tomorrow
"We just need to work hard. We've played well at times on the road but haven't been able to put a complete game together and get a win. Vancouver is going to come out and play hard. They aren't for sure in the playoffs just yet and they have got Dallas to worry about, so we are just going to try to make it difficult for them and try to get our first win."
On how the added motivation of the Cascadia Cup and playoff implications will affect the game
"It is going to be a battle, a playoff atmosphere, and it is kind of cool to have at this point, even though we are out of it. I think the last two games have kind of put a test to us. The first one didn't go so well in Seattle and now we are hoping to change that and get our first road win and win the Cascadia Cup."
On what the team can take away from the game in Seattle that could help them against Vancouver
"There is not much that you can take away other than that we came out just a little too flat all around, a lot of players including myself, but we need to come out and not let that happen. I think it is just a little bit of the mentality and and working hard. Then once you work hard defensively and as a team the rest kind of comes."
On what the team can do to not lose concentration early in the game
"I think we just can't let anything be dangerous in the first ten, five minutes, similar to how we started against New York. Get some long balls, some pressure situations, try and counter a little bit, and then as the game starts to slow down we can start to play the way we like to play."