The Portland Timbers practiced today at Jeld-Wen Field for the first time since their defeat by the Montreal Impact on Saturday. Practice was closed to the press after the team completed their warm-ups.
The Timbers wounded were a mixed bag at practice with Troy Perkins, who will be a game time decision this weekend according to John Spencer, at practice and running with a bandage on his nose. Steve Purdy was not as lucky, missing practice due to the concussion he sustained. David Horst, Futty Danso,and Kalif Alhassan were all missing from practice as well. Horst was working in the team gym during practice today, while Alhassan continues to be out with a knee strain and willnot be back for several weeks. No word yet on Futty's status.
New left back Steven Smith was not at practice today as he travels back to the United Kingdom to secure his P-1 visa. The team hopes to have him back for Saturday's game against the Columbus Crew. Interestingly, Smith was able to play against Montreal thanks to Canada's open visa relationship with the UK.
More practice notes and quotes from John Spencer and Troy Perkins after the jump.
After the usual running as a group, the keepers split off and worked separately with Jake Gleeson taking part in the early work. Pool keeper Brian Rowe continued training with the team today as injuries still plague the Timbers' keepers. Troy Perkins did not join them, instead running with the field players then breaking off to continue running on his own under the supervision of John Ireland.
After practice concluded, the team took part in a game of "butts up" (wherein players who missed their shots on goal stood on the goal line with their butts sticking out for others to use as a target) before leaving the field.
While most players headed straight inside after the fun was over, several of the younger players stuck around. Brent Richards showed off his skills in the air, firing in some fantastic headers and volleys from crosses by Chris Taylor, Charles Renken, Ryan Kawulok, and, interestingly, Andrew Jean-Baptiste. With the Timbers current questions at right back, AJB's crossing practice might be read as yet another center back being converted to a right back to join Purdy and Kawulok (not to mention converted midfielders Freddie Braun and Lovel Palmer).
Spencer talked for quite a while after practice concluded, so his quotes will be a while before they get posted. Here is about half of what he talked about, with more coming shortly.
On Troy Perkins' injury
Troy got a very bad one. He's actually very lucky that he's not going in for plastic surgery today. He has actually got a gash from one nostril all the way around to the other.
I've seen it a number of times in slow motion. Obviously we, as coaches, get the benefit of replay and stuff like that, but that is a stone-wall red card for me. I've played the game myself. There is only one reason that you go in on a tackle on the goal keeper like that, and I've done it myself, and it is to do the goal keeper. He was nowhere near the ball and that is a straight red card. I think he is very lucky not to have lost an eye to be honest with you.
I like the kid, Nyassi, I think he is a lovely kid. I don't think he is a dirty player. That was a bad challenge.
Obviously the league has their disciplinary committee and I would imagine that they will be looking at that.
The fourth official was more concerned about how a water bottle made its way on to the field than who kicked our player in the face, which I found extraordinary. It is a strange game at times. You get red-carded if you're the last defender and you handle the ball in the box or punch one off the line. You get a red card and a penalty kick, yet that decision, if you did that in the street and a police office was there you would probably be done for assault and spend a number of months in prison. It was a horrendous challenge and I am very disappointed that it wasn't a red card.
On Steve Purdy's injury
There's another game changing decision. Another player in the first half who had to get subbed for concussion-like symptoms because of a forearm and shoulder to the side of his head and then you have to sub another guy out.
It is concussion-like symptoms. He's gone up to watch the ball and another one Justin Mapp, I don't think he is that type of player, comes late and hits him with his forearm and his shoulder and then the ball comes off Justin Mapp, so I think that there's two decisions. One for sure was plain to see for everybody. You see how Troy Perkins' head whips back.
I think he's got concussion protocols. He'll be out for seven or more days.
On Steven Smith's handball
I'm a big beleiver in if you hit the ball or the ball hits your hand in the box, unless your hands are right in tucked, I think it is a penalty kick. I think is is the right decision although it has hit his knee then hit his hand. I don't think it was deliberate. It is ball to hand.
On the team's performance
I still think that the Nyassi challenge is a game changer. Were we playing well? No. I think that we gave up a few chances in the first half. The second half I think it was a pretty even game, a pretty boring game, and it was probably going to be nil-nil until that decision.
On the Timbers' lack of offense in recent games
You can't complain about the offense if you don't create offense. You can have two of the best strikers in the world up there, but if you don't give them quality service they are not going to score goals. I think that Boydie has proved that if we get him good service in the box he can score goals and in the last couple of games, especially against Kansas City where it was a tough game, I don't think that we're creating enough quality service for a quality striker.
On who's fault it is that the offense has been ineffective
I think we've all got to take blame. I mean, if it is your job to tackle and you don't win tackles then it is your fault. For these midfield players, fullbacks, whoever is going to make the final pass has got to take responsibility for getting good, quality service into the box. There's not one person to blame and I think we've all got to take responsibility for it.
On how to change the team's fortunes
We've got training this week to try and put it right, to try and keep the spirits high and keep the confidence high. I do believe that we've got the quality to get out of this slump that we're in. We did it last year and came through and were unlucky to miss the playoffs. I think that if we keep our edge and don't panic and don't get ourselves too down we definitely have the quality in abundance to get out of this.
On the Columbus Crew
Another difficult team. A well experienced team with a good coaching staff. They'll come here to do what they did last year, to play tough and work for 90 minutes. They'll be organized and disciplined. It is up to us to win, to get quality moments in the game and quality service on the final ball to try and give our strikers a chance to score goals.
On the state of the turf in Montreal
It is not a good field. You could see it on television yourself. At the end of the day you can't make any excuse. They had to play on it. For me it is not an excuse for why we lost the game. I don't think we had enough quality.
There were a few things that went against us that should have went for us, which seems to be a recurring problem right now. We're not getting the calls in games.
On Troy Perkins' availability against the Crew this weekend
It'll be a game time decision. I think they had to use stitches and glue, it was pretty horrific. There was a lot of blood on the field right at the incident. He said to me this morning that when he closed his eyes he thought he was going to lose an eye on the tackle. You can actually see in slow motion he just gets his hand up to protect himself and I think he was lucky that he did that because he could have lost an eye.
On who will play in goal if Perkins is out
Joe will come in. Obviously, Jake has been still struggling so Joe Bendik will come in and play if need be.
On why the level of intensity was lacking against Montreal as opposed to what was shown against Sporting Kansas City
For me, I think it was a really good result for sure [against Kansas City]. Performance-wise I think there wasn't a lot of quality in the game, I think that it was one of those games where we had to dig really deep against a really good, physical team, a good soccer team who are really well organized, but it is not the way we want to win games. We've proved in the past as we've played against big teams at the top of their game and won in style and played good football. We need to get back to playing good football and creating some good opportunities for our forwards and midfield players to score.
On the confidence level of the team
We believe in ourselves, we believe in ourselves as a group. We know I need to coach better, the players need to play better and show what we can do. It is the same staff with the same qualities as last year. We've got a lot of the same players with the same qualities that they had last year. Confidence is a big factor in any professional athlete's life, it doesn't matter what sport you're in. That is something that we need to keep high because eventually we will come out of the rut and we will start to play the way that we know we can play.
On if we will see any line-up changes next weekend
No, if I was going to make any changes I will tell the players that before I go telling anybody else, so give them that respect.
On Eric Alexander
I think that Eric is in a situation, like a lot of us, that he has been given an opportunity to play and is not playing to the best of his ability that we know how he can play. That is not just Eric. There's a lot of guys in that bracket that has the quality to be a player and be a starter in Major League Soccer. That's why people call me and ask to trade for him once a week. There's teams that would take him but he's not going anywhere.
He needs to realize, everybody does, that when you get the opportunity to play you've got to take it with both hands. That's what I keep telling them and I tell you guys the same thing. Players have their own careers in their own hands, coaches don't. If you get the opportunity to play, make sure you make the most of it. Play well and stay in the team.
On Kalif Alhassan
He's injured. He's tweaked his knee. He'll be out for another couple of weeks. It would be nice to start getting guys back without losing more guys.
On Diego Chara and Darlington Nagbe playing on the wings
Darlington has played there before. He wants to play through the middle but when you've got injuries, we don't have [Sal Zizzo], we don't have Kalif. We're trying to fit square pegs into round holes at the moment and trying to do the best with what we've got. Once we've got Sal fit and once we've got Kalif back then we've got our natural wide players and that then balances out Diego slipping to the middle and Darlington is fighting for a place like Kris Boyd is, like [Jorge Perlaza] is.
You've got to remember that when you play up front, your main job is to score goals and that is something that you can't just rely on scoring world class goals as a center forward. You're not going to score many in the season because you don't score many in your career that are world class, you've got to get into the box, in the six, and get your tap-ins too. You want to play in a position but you've got to prove that you can handle the responsibilities to play as a goalkeeper, as a defender, as a midfield player, or as a forward and part of those responsibilities is scoring goals.
On Sal Zizzo
He's training very well this morning. The problem is that when you have an injury the way that Sal has had the ideal situation is that you get them ten or fifteen reserve games, fifteen weeks in a row. Monday, Monday, Monday the way that they have back in Europe. The problem is that you have a guy that has been out for five months and you have a reserve game every three or four weeks. You can't get him games. He needs games and you don't put him in and hope that he gets his fitness in the first team because you have got to get results.
On James Marcelin
I think that the answer is in the statement that we made. He got released for non-soccer related activities. You do the math. One and one means two and the bottom line is that you can't be a part time professional in the modern game, otherwise the modern game will chew you up and spit you out and that is what has happened.
I don't want to get into too many specifics. We tried everything, but there was no coming back.
On Steven Smith
We've always done a good job in the past with visas and the government have worked well doing that for us, so you keep your fingers crossed. I think he had a good debut this weekend. I think we'll see more from him as he adapts more to the American game. He has got a nice left foot and delivers some decent service in the box. I think he'll be a good player for us.
On Freddie Braun potentially starting at right back
As I say, right now it is square pegs in round holes. Freddie has essentially played three games as a right back. One's been in the open cup and two have been in the first team. The kid has come in and he is trying his best like a lot of guys right now. I'm happy for him, but he's not a natural right back but that is the situation that we are sitting in right now.
Perkins nose looked bad but not terrible, however his descriptions of the incident are quite scary. Although I did not get it on tape, I did hear him tell someone that the trainers told him afterwards that they could have fit their whole pinkie finger through the hole in his nose.
On his injury
It's not pretty, is it? I've seen the tackle many times and it's bad. Honestly, luckily I wasn't knocked out, but it is definitely not a fun thing to deal with.
On his nose
I've got to get a CT scan later today. I saw a couple of specialists yesterday and some more today. I have a metting with a plastic surgeon later to see what needs to be done, but it's pretty deep.
On if he is thinking of playing on Saturday
Of course. As long as the doctors say that there is no concussion or anything like that then, yeah, I want to be in there as long as coach is going to play me. I had a fitting for a mask yesterday and I get it today, so hopefully ifI get cleared to play that will be my protection.
On the play that lead to his injury and if a red card should have been given to Sanni Nyassi
I think it is. My opinion doesn't matter, obviously. Watching it many times on video I don't think that the guy has any chance at getting the ball, especially with his angle and the direction he comes from, there is no chance and to go studs up is definitely an automatic red.
I was a little shocked that he only gets a yellow card and if you look at it,it changes the whole game for us. Even if I stay on the field, no matter what it is just a dangerous play. The amount of blood that came out shocked a lot of guys and having to deal with that certainly changed the whole momentum of the game.
On his reaction to the injury
Initially I thought he got my eye. I thought my eye was gone just from where he hit me and the impact that I took. As soon as I opened my eyes I was thankful that I could see, but the pool of blood that was on the field was enough to get me going.
On if he knows Nyassi
Never met him. Obviously he's been in the league for a while but I don't know him personally.
On if Nyassi apologized
Through Futty. Futty knows him really well and he says he didn't mean to but anyone that goes studs up into a goal keeper sliding down, I've called for the ball... Like I said, I don't think he has a chance to get the ball. It's just a stupid tackle and really not well thought out.
On previous injuries
I think this is the worst I've ever dealt with. I've gotten many boots across the face, but nothing like this.
On the possibility of playing with a mask
I don't think it is going to be a big issue. It is going to be a clear mask. It was specifically designed for my face. I'm not concerned with it. We'll deal with it. I've played with different things on my hands, knees, whatever. You need to deal with it.