Practice went on as normal today with the team holding an open training session at Jeld-Wen Field. Following the usual warm ups the team was broken up into three separate groups of nine with two teams playing a short field game while the third team provided one touch passes to whomever had the ball from the sidelines. After several rounds of switching out teams in the short field game, the starters from Sunday's game headed inside to undergo a regen session with the team's training staff while the rest of the team continued to play short field games.
Injuries and Absences
Hanyer Mosquera was the only expected absense today after having to be subbed off against Vancouver, largely due to being repeatedly undercut by Whitecaps forward Camilo Sanvezzo while going up for headers. According to Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson, Mosco was suffering from a tight IT band in his right knee which was aggravated by the Whitecaps physical play and the harsh surface in BC Place.
Futty Danso and Eric Brunner were both surprising absences, although both has struggled with injuries over the course of the season. Both players went in for surgery within the last day to deal with longstanding issues. Danso went in for surgery on his knee, while Brunner had his ankle operated on. The Timbers should be releasing more information on both players this afternoon.
Ian Hogg, who is recovering from a rolled ankle, continued to work his way back to fitness today. Hogg warmed up with the team for the third practice in a row before breaking off to do some running on his own as the rest of the team played their usual games of keep away.
Kris Boyd and Kalif Alhassan both fully participated in practice today after each missing significant amounts of time due to injuries. When asked about their possible status for Saturday's game after practice today, Wilkinson emphasized that the health of the players had to come first but did not rule out a substitute appearance for either player.
Chris Taylor, who has been rehabilitating his hip after undergoing corrective surgery several months ago, was not out on the pitch at practice today.
Trialists and Guest Players
Cam Vickers and Dustin Corea were both with the group in practice today.
- Boyd looked like his old self in practice today, if a little bit rusty. Lots of standing around and calling for the ball, followed by some good acceleration in a 1-2 pass or a nice flick of the ball that his teammates just were not anticipating.
- Jose Adolfo Valencia had several nice moves, dribbling through several players before tucking the ball away. He really looks like Dike but with more clinical finishing.
- Sebastian Rincon always surprises me with his ability to just shield a defender off the ball and accelerate away. Sadly, he rarely surprised me with his decisions on the ball when he tries to take on just one too many defenders once he does get away from his man initially.
- This was the first practice that I got to really watch Dustin Corea in since the preseason (where I do no remember him other than that he was there) and he impressed me several times. At first I thought of him as more of a winger but he seems to drift in to the attacking midfield role similar to Franck Songo. He showed off some skill with the ball several times today, as well as one very well taken volley through traffic. He may not be what the team needs most desperately, but he is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
- Andrew Jean-Baptiste is very confident on the ball. He will not hesitate to dribble a forward that is putting him under pressure and it generally goes well for him.
- Everyone was wearing hats today. Even Franck Songo'o and Darlington Nagbe, who are rarely be-hatted, were rocking the knit Timbers hats, which made it very hard to track who was doing what early on in practice.
On how the team is feeling after beating Vancouver
"I think everything is very positive. Obviously there is still the thoughts and regrets from the whole season as such, but it is definitely very, very nice. It means a lot to the players, it means a lot to the organization, and it definitely means a lot, as it should, to the fans. It is something that they deserve."
On how he feels about the win
"Releived more than anything. After the Seattle game, there were a lot of negatives in that game and ones that we created for ourselves, but I think that we made amends in many ways. The result means a lot to me as well. I've been with the organization for a long time and it is nice to see the fans have a reason to celebrate. It was a fantastic feeling."
On how the team can stop Chris Wondolowski from breaking the MLS single season scoring record
"I think you have to treat him like the villain. He was very antagonistic in the way that he played when he came on against us in San Jose and made a tremendous difference to them. He has had a terrific season and is a constant threat. He is a player that you need to be aware of at all times and you need to be aware of his runs, his second movements, and you need to take care of him in a good way. For us it is a matter of being up for the challenge.
I am sure that he will be given the opportunity to try and at least equal or break the goal scoring record, so it is not something that we want him doing at Jeld-Wen in front of our fans. There is a lot of motivation there from that perspective and also the fact that he hurt us in the last game and scored two goals against us, so we aim to make sure that he doesn't do the same."
On how to prepare for a game when there is so much focus on one player
"You try and win first and foremost. We have to look at what is best for this game and also for the organization moving forward. We've got that as a challenge that we need to accept as a coaching staff and also for the players. They want to end the season on a high note and, I am sure, I am one hundred percent positive that they want to win this game. They have got a lot of pride playing in front of their home fans and coming off a good result against Vancouver it is very important that we get a good result against San Jose. We didn't want to end the season being one of five or six teams (all-time) that went a season without winning a road game and we don't want to be a team that allows Wondolowski to break the record either."
On the importance of getting a result in the last game of the season at home
"Every home game we treat as a final. It is very, very important. They deserve to see a good game first and foremost and I hope that that entertaining game is also a great result for us, but when you look at the season forty two points are what Vancouver is on now. That has got them into the playoffs, that is what we were at last season. Also, you look at what games we have possibly had where we should have got more out of it. You look at some of the decisions that haven't gone our way and suddenly what has been a very frustrating season was only one or two moments, maybe three moments, away from being a lot, lot different.
It is important that we go into this San Jose game expressing ourselves as we did in Vancouver, fighting for ninety minutes and working extremely hard. We are one of the few teams that San Jose has not beaten and it is important for us to take that into the next season as well. It is something to build off."
On how he would describe the season as a whole
"Frustrating, first and foremost. It was frustrating. You know,we understand that you can have lapses on the field and what we have to take into account as coaches is to take responsibility for the players performances and not all those have been tremendous, but I think that there are enough building block with which to be moving forward. You also start to look at some of the things that we couldn't control and some of the ref's decisions.
You can go back to the penalty against Seattle, the penalty that we should have got at home against Vancouver, the penalty on the road against Toronto, and suddenly you pick up two more points in each of those three games and that is another six points out of three recent games. It has been a frustrating season from many, many angles and it is one that we have to control what we can control moving forward and look to improve the on field product."
On how much change their will be between now and next season
"That is something that we will address in the off season. We will have to sit down with every single player that we've got in the locker room there and start to paint a very clear picture for them moving forward. With any professional organization there is going to be what we consider progress and we will look to move one or two pieces and look to continue to improve the on field product.
I think that we know how we want to play. We want to be an athletic team that looks to control games. We want to play dominant soccer. At every moment we want to put teams under pressure, which means we do need players that understand the game, that are versatile in the way that they play, and take good care of the ball in tight spaces. We are looking at players that will suite the system that Caleb Porter wants to run."
On how the players returning from injury will factor into Saturday's line-up
"I think that first and foremost you have got to take into account the player's health and Kalif, just because he is back training doesn't mean that he is match fit, doesn't meant that he can go into a game. Kris Boyd is the same scenario. You know, they are back training but there is a difference between completing a training session and playing a game.
Being that the most intense part of the game is generally the start the way that San Jose play, which is relatively physical and very athletic, we have got to put players out on the field that can not only get the job done but can be successful, both for themselves and for the team, and putting a player out there that is not match fit is not going to help them or the team. There is a lot of decisions that do need to be made and ultimately we want to find out a little bit more about some of the players, so we have got a lot of discussions that have occurred today and will continue to happen going into the San Jose game."
On the health of Eric Brunner and Futty Danso
"Eric has been battling with a little bit of an injury. It has been a little bit of a rough season with the concussion and the time it took to recover from that and then he's been dealing with an ankle injury that we are getting dealt with today.
Futty went in for surgery yesterday, Eric Brunner has gone in for surgery today, and that will be coming out his afternoon, more details about that through our department. It is a matter of getting these players healthy, getting them ready for a hard off season. It is surgeries that we do need to get out of the way very, very quickly."
On Hanyer Mosquera
"Mosco just has a tight IT band and on that surface, which the players didn't thoroughly enjoy, it caused a few more problems with that particular body part than we thought it would, but he is recovering."