The Portland Timbers trained as usual at the Timbers' training facility in Beaverton this morning. Players stayed out on the field until well after noon today, taking advantage of the almost-summer sun. We were not allowed to see any of the players' post-training activities, so I don't have anything to report on that footing.
Some injury/international/wedding absence related notes:
- Eric Brunner got his concussion checked out today, and Coach John Spencer said they'd find out more about his condition in the afternoon.
Rodney Wallace has returned from his stint with the Costa Rica National Team. He did not play in the team's World Cup Qualifier against El Salvador, so Timbers fans will have to wait a while longer to see two Timbers play on opposite sides of a meaningful international competition. (Steve Purdy did play in the 2-2 draw.)
- Spencer said Wallace came back with an ankle injury -- he did not say whether that was the reason he was unable to play against El Salvador.
- Kris Boyd will return from his wedding tomorrow. As Will reported last week, Steven Smith will be back sometime next week.
On Danny Mwanga's first couple of days in training:
We brought him here because we think he's a good player. He's show that he has good technique. I think fitness levels, obviously not being involved, regularly starting games ... his fitness levels aren't where they need to be. But he's an honest kid, and he works hard in practice, and he'll get there. Obviously when you fall out of favor at a club, and the club's looking to move you on, then they start to concentrate more on the guys that are more long term. He knows that himself, he knows he's not in the best condition of his career. But he's a young man, he works hard in practice, and it won't be too far until he gets there.
On his status for Sunday's match against LA Galaxy:
He'll be there. He'll get minutes and possibly start the game.
On what lessons can be drawn from the previous match in LA:
Well we had a lead that we should have doubled in that week. I think a call went against us again at an important time, and we could have went 2-nil up. Hopefully second half of the season things like that start to go for us. I think too many big calls go against us at important times of the game, and we're looking for some more calls to go our way.
But as I say, it's a difficult place to go and play, the same as Jeld Wen is a difficult place to come and play at. So for us, every game's different, I think in this league any team is capable of beating anybody on any given day. So Sunday won't be any different for us. We'll be going in with the mentality that we can beat them.
On injuries and all that stuff:
As I say there are no excuses. Guys get injured, like every other club has, and guys suspended like every other club has, so you just gotta deal with the hand that you're given, and as I say, once you start looking for excuses, you'll find them.
Certainly I wouldn't say that injuries and all that stuff has held us back. I think that every game we've been in, except for maybe a couple, we've had a chance at winning the games. And hopefully it'll be the same on Sunday.
On whether the long break represents a chance for the team to regroup:
It's easy to say things. It's a lot harder to do them. It's easy to sit back and say the break's been great for us. What happens if you lose the game, what are you going to say? The break wasn't good? So for me the proof's in the pudding, it's what you do on the field. You get chances, take the chances.
Too many people have been saying a lot of things. Away from the stadium, a lot of people are saying a lot of things; at the stadium a lot people are saying things. So for me it's just do what you're meant to do, do your business, do your job, and the rest will be history.
Have you been impressed with anyone in particular during training the last two weeks?
Yeah, I think Amos Magee's been sensational. He's been the best player we've had. It's a shame we couldn't sign him.
On (still) moving past the Cal FC result:
I don't think we can dwell on it, but it's something we definitely remember. We're gonna be disappointed about ourselves and the result. But now it's time to move past that and get back to MLS play and start moving up the standings.
On Danny Mwanga:
Very talented guy, guy who likes to get on the ball and get in the box and finish. So hopefully we can get him some good service and let him do that for us.
On how much work they're getting in over the long break:
I think compared to some other people we probably didn't have as many days off. We worked very, very hard last week, and that's to be expected after the disappointing performance against Cal FC. I think the guys knew it was a good time to get some work in and maybe get a little extra fitness in. Those are things we can always work on throughout the course of the year, and it was a perfect time for that. Now we're looking forward to get back into MLS games and start moving up in the standings and get ourselves where we want to be.
On their goals for the upcoming games:
It's still relatively early. We weren't happy with where we were and I think the last few games in MLS action we've felt pretty good about our performances. Dropped some points in the home game against Vancouver that we wouldn't have liked to, but I think the performance was right, and if we continue to get those performances, we're going to get points and climb.
On the trainings over the past couple of weeks:
Good. Great attitudes, great intensity and enthusiasm in the last week. We've been training twice a day -- it's not always easy, it's not always fun, but the guys really came to work hard, and now we start fine tuning things for the game this Sunday.
Last week was probably one of the most intense weeks we've had, since the preseason. And now we've got three really important games coming up.
On the keys over the next few weeks:
I think we just keep building. We don't need to change too much. The opportunities are there, we just gotta finish them. And defensively just keep doing what we're doing, keeping clean sheets.
On Danny Mwanga:
Strong. Strong boy. Young, you know he's got great potential, and he couldn't be at a better place than this team, and we'll try to do as much as we can for him, to build him up again, and just take the pressure off of him and let him do what he does.
On beating LA:
You don't want to give them a chance. As soon as they start believing in themselves they become a dangerous team as you could see when we first played them. We gave them too many opportunities, they capitalized. We gotta be able to take that away from them, we've got to capitalize early and make sure they don't feel good about themselves.
On his part in the competition for the midfield spots this season:
I've been in and out. I think my consistency has hurt me a little bit, but I think I'm doing all right. It's gonna be like that the whole season. Guys have good weeks, guys have bad weeks. That's just how it is. You can train well all week, but for us it seems not to be an indicator of how the weekend goes. I think it's just finding the right guys on the outside backs and the wings and then just finding some cohesiveness.
There's tons of different factors, and if we knew every one we'd be able to pinpoint it and the same guys would be out there every week. So I think it's just trying to find what those are and make them controllable.
I'm good friends with all of them, so obviously we all want to out-work each other and play better, but if somebody gets a start over me one weekend, I'm not sulking, I'm out there telling them, do well, do your best, and they're telling me the same thing.
The focus of the past week has pretty much just been getting crosses and goals and assists, and I think if we can get that down, I think that's what it's gonna take to stay in the lineup.
I was pretty impressed with Denmark. But I think the Netherlands will still wind up getting out of there. And then probably Germany too.
I had [picked] Spain, but without David Villa it hurts them, playing six midfielders and no forwards.