After last night's preseason game against the San Jose Earthquakes, the Portland Timbers were in full on recovery mode today. The players taht started last night did some brief fitness drills on the field before heading inside early on to continue their workout in the team gym. The rest of the players, including second half substitutes Darlington Nagbe, Lovel Palmer, and Bright Dike stayed out in the cold for a more vigorous workout.
Kris Boyd practiced today after being held out of the game yesterday to recover from an ankle injury. Sal Zizzo warmed up with the team and took part in slightly more of the practice but did not participate in the whole time. According to the Timbers front office, Zizzo has now started adding extra workouts after practice to start working toward game fitness. There were no updates available on the Timbers players recovering from long term injury but when asked about Jose Adolfo Valencia's recent tweets about the speed of his recovery the FO praised his positive attitude toward his rehabilitation.
As usual, practice today started with some small games of keep away before moving into some small sided games, first 7v7 then 6v6 with one additional player permanently helping the attack. Zizzo and Darlington Nagbe both took part in the games of keep away, but did not participate in in the small sided games. Coaches John Spencer, Amos Magee, and Cameron Knowles all took part in the games. Spencer was just as loud in his capacity as a player as he is as a coach.
The games were played on a quarter of the field, giving each player the chance to get into the attack with several players scoring on some excellent shots. Charles Renken, although he got tossed around quite a bit while playing defense, had ample opportunity to show off his excellent ball control and finishing, scoring from a number of positions. Bright Dike also scored on some very nice, and very powerful, shots although when receiving the ball close in to the keeper he was repeatedly shut down by Joe Bendick and Jake Gleeson. Bendick, who was positioned closer to the press area, seemed to be the busier keeper and came up with some very good saves. In particular, his ability to make himself big and be in the right spot was very impressive.
Quotes from John Spencer, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, and Lovel Palmer after the jump.
On Lovel Palmer
He feels that he is good to go, it is just too much of a risk after coming back from a hamstring injury. Usually when you have those injuries you can get a couple of reserve games under your belt in any other league in the world, but for us I think it is just too soon to throw him in there at the start. He got through that last night so we will look to add him to the group of starters on Thursday.
On Kris Boyd
They've been pounding him at Nike and he's a little bit heavy-legged. You can see when he is feeling sharp on the ball he will score goals. Fatigue is a factor right now for him. He's got that little bit of preseason soreness that everybody had in the first few days here. The quicker he can get a few good days under his belt with the guys over there the quicker he can get back to full fitness.
On last night's game against San Jose
You can't fall into that trap where you just expect to win games here and I'm a little bit guilty of that myself. There is an opponent that wants to win the game just as much as you. Looking at it, there were some good performances, a lot of stuff to take from it. I don't think that they put us under much danger at all, except for when we made individual errors and that goal came from just an individual mistake.
If you look at it, you're playing young Ryan Kowaluk who's just out of [University of Portland], then you've got another rookie (Andrew Jean-Baptiste) playing in the back for you, and [Hayner Mosquera] who hasn't played in Major League Soccer or played against any Major League Soccer team so far. It was a good experience for them all and for missing the guys that we are missing it was a good performance from us.
On the physical play of the San Jose forwards
You face guys like Lenhart week in and week out in this league, the Brian Chings of this world. Big strong bodies, Conor Caseys, Omar Cummings', guys who can really handle themselves physically. There is always going to be an adjustment period for foreign players and an adjustment period for college players, but for the most parts of the game they actually handled themselves pretty well.
On the new players reaction to the crowd
[They were] very surprised. Very surprised to say the least. You tell the guys that the atmosphere is tremendous, and it was kind of toned down last night, but come game time against Philly I would imagine it will get a little bit louder again.
On Thursday's game against Chivas USA
We've got a lot of guys missing. Eric Brunner will come back in. We might get Steve Purdy back in time. We'll be putting the best team out that we feel is available at that time and get out to try and win the game. For us, when you play home games here in front of 15,000 people it is pretty incredible for a preseason game.
On his objectives for the remainder of preseason
To get people back healthy now. I think that we know how we want to play. Obviously with the guys that we were missing we couldn't play our standard 4-4-2 which I do favor at home most of the time and we had to make an adjustment at half-time. At this time of year you'll be hoping that you can get almost the starting line-up out there of the guys that you feel will feature against Philadelphia but this is par for the course when it comes to being a head coach. There are obstacles in your way and it is up to you to try to overcome them, so we're no different from any other team that has got injuries or absentees at the moment.
On playing in Jeld-Wen Field
Playing in front of that crowd was pretty exciting. As soon as I came out of the locker room and walked on to the pitch, I just felt this sense of energy just surge through my body when I heard the crowd.
On defending MLS forwards
It is something that I am used to, playing with a lot of guys that are big and strong and hold the ball up. It is something that is within my range. My concern is more with the small and crafty forwards. I am starting to get used to them a lot more, but since the majority of the forwards in MLS are big and strong I should have fun with them.
On his return from injury
The muscle is a little bit sore, but that's natural and a good thing. If it wasn't sore we would be a little bit worried. Coming back from a muscle injury it is just natural to feel sore while coming back from your first real competitive game or training session. As you see, I was out there this morning just trying to get rid of the soreness, open my legs a bit passing the ball. All in all I am happy that I got a couple of minutes last night.
On his performance against San Jose
All I wanted was just to get through the fifteen minutes that I played and not aggravate the injury. I think I did that. I got a couple of touches off the ball. I was a little bit negative at times, passing the ball back to the goal keeper but that was probably just me being tentative and being cautious with the injury.
On competing for a starting position
[Ryan Kowaluk] is a really good player. He came here last season when we were training after the season finished and I knew that he was something special. He's going to have me on my toes. We never know what is going to happen come opening day. If he is playing like that maybe I will find myself being his backup.
Competition is good for the team. It is good for the player. You never sleep, you always think about what the next person is doing and what you need to do to improve your game to make your team better and to make yourself better.
On playing in Jeld-Wen Field
It never gets old. It's amazing. You come out, you see the Army chanting for ninety minutes. It's amazing and I wouldn't trade this for anything. It's always a pleasure to walk out and entertain the fans here. They're awesome.