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The Timbers held their last practice in Portland before Sunday's Cascadia Cup clash against the Seattle Sounders. The Timbers will head to Seattle tomorrow to get in one practice on enemy ground before the game.
Today's closed practice was held at the team's Beaverton training facility. The Timbers went through their usual warm ups and games of keep away before before practice was closed and were playing games of seven on seven when the press were let back out onto the pitch.
Injuries and Absences
Kris Boyd, Ian Hogg, and Kalif Alhassan were all absent from practice today with injuries. Hogg, who rolled his ankle at practice over the weekend, was sitting on the sideline watching the proceedings.
Steve Purdy was not with the team today as he has been called up to the El Salvadoran national team camp for World Cup qualifying.
Trialists and Guest Players
Cam Vickers and Mobi Fehr continued their time training with the Timbers today. Fehr played with the Timbers first team in the games of 7v7 as the Timbers continue to evaluate him as a possible off-season signing.
On the mood of the team
"It is a little bit quiet but upbeat. I know that sounds strange, but I think the players are a little bit reserved and, obviously, focused on the game on Sunday. There is a little bit less joking but you can see that one or two players are starting to perform and they feel confident."
On if the team's mentality is what he would like to see
"I think so. With a more experienced group you would probably have a little more light-hearted humor and players expressing themselves more, but I think with a younger group they are very intrinsic, very focused, and they are worrying about their own performances, which for a young group is not a bad thing."
On if he is curious to see how the players react to such an important game
"Yeah. As an interim coach and in preparing for next season it is very intriguing. You start to look at players. We've made particular note of how players are performing in training this week leading up to the game and, obviously, we will sit back and we will reevaluate the performance after the game and start to see if there is any ties between the way they have progressed, the way they've trained, and their performance. For us it is very, very interesting to see what some of the young players have in store for us."
On if this game is like a final exam for the players
"I think that it is going to go until the end of the season. This is just a larger scale. We are going to be playing in front of sixty thousand plus people. It is going to be an atmosphere that we have not experienced on the road before, this season anyway, and I am very curious to see how the players respond.
It is just one of many tests, to be honest, and we will sit down with some of the younger players after this weekend and see how they thought they went and give them our thoughts as well."
On if it is important to stay in control of the game in an environment like Sunday's
"I think so. We need to look to control the game when we can. We have got to look to keep our shape. That's very, very important. Communication is always difficult. It is difficult at Jeld-Wen, but with Jeld-Wen it is such a compact atmosphere you could swear there is more than twenty thousand people in that stadium.
Going in to Seattle it is going to be a difficult game. Seattle are trying to lift their position on the table and it is important to them. For us it is going to be a great, great test."
I asked Gavin if the team would be bringing any extra towels in case it rained. He, probably wisely, directed me to the team's equipment manager.
On preparing to take on Seattle
"It has been a long week since we have a game on Sunday. I think we have got enough rest since the last game. We had two days off and we slowly came back and then everybody has been in good shape. I think we are looking forward to getting a point over there. One point or three points.
We have a bunch of guys playing really well. All we have to do is just stick with our plan, just keep playing. If we perform just like the last few, the last couple then we are going to play well and we can get the Cascadia Cup for sure from Seattle."
On if the players are feeling the tension building before this weekend's match
"Definitely. We heard already it is going to be packed. There is going to be over sixty thousand people that are going to be in the stadium. It is good for us. It is great for us to get a point and walk out with the trophy, but it is only one thing at a time.
It is going to be packed and it is going to be a different atmosphere, but we have to keep our heads down and just stick with our plan and all the guys, everybody, even the staff and all the guys on the bench, everybody, stick together. We are going to go there and get a win."
On if playing in an atmosphere like Seattle's will help with the team's road struggles
"It is going to be tough for sure. Sixty thousand and most of them their fans and, you know Seattle, they are good fans too. Not like our fans, but still, they have got a good amount of people who come to watch their games and support.
For us it is just like I said, just keep it cool. I know it is going to be one of the big games for us and it is going to be a huge crowd, but at the same time we have to keep ourselves cool and just calm down and just play our game. As long as we do that I think we can do it.
We haven't won any of our away games yet, but I think that our performances away have been really well. If you look at San Jose I think we did well and against Salt Lake we lost but I think that we dominated Salt Lake in Salt Lake in the second half. I think that we have to potential to compete really well in our away games. We just need that final some kind of luck. Maybe we can get a [penalty kick] on of these days. You never know, but as long as we keep working just like the last couple of away games I think that we can get a good result over there."