With their Cascadia Cup clash against the Seattle Sounders only two days away, the Portland Timbers held a closed training session at Jeld-Wen Field this morning. Returning from a day off yesterday, the Timbers held a full practice session today, not wrapping things up until after 11:30.
Eric Brunner and Rodney Wallace continued to miss practice as both are still recovering from their respective injuries. Brunner, who is still suffering from concussio- like symptoms, is out indefinitely until he can be cleared by the league. Wallace, who suffered an ankle sprain while with Costa Rica, is expected to be back in practice soon.
Danny Mwanga, who left practice early Tuesday and Wednesday thanks to a knock he took early in the game against LA last Sunday, was on the pitch for the whole practice today. According to Timbers' coach John Spencer, Mwanga is still complaining about a dead leg. In his post practice comments, Spencer seems to be hinting at the possibility of Mike Fucito getting the start over Mwanga this Sunday.
More practice notes plus quotes from John Spencer and Kris Boyd after the jump
Timbers Army Mad Libs
At [noun] today, several [plural noun] of the Timbers Army [noun] crew were in the [place] during practice, [verb ending in -ing] up [plural noun] for Sunday's [noun]. From the [noun] they were [verb ending in -ing], this [noun] could be a [adjective] one. I, for one, am [adjective].
Also, Timber Jim was there.
Remember, this is not the place to [verb] about [noun]. The [plural noun] would be very [adjective] with you.
On preparing for Seattle on Sunday
It is a good game to look forward to. The form book goes out the window and it is down to the team that wants it the most on the day. In the big games or the rivalry games that you watch on television, that you are involved in, it is not always the team with the most quality or the team that is in form that wins the game. They are very unpredictable, that is why they are so great.
On if games like this are more intense or more fun than normal
I think it is a better time to answer that question after the game. It is definitely more fun when you get three points in the bag and there is more pressure when you don't win the game. We are at home and obviously with the result last year we can't do anything about but it isn't nice losing to your rival at your home pitch, so that is something we will be looking to correct.
On how the Cascadia rivalry compares to the Old Firm
It is a different game completely. You know, I played in the Rangers and Celtic game when I was a young kid and, obviously, you have the religion aspect so it is totally different I think. In Major League Soccer and American sports this rivalry is probably up there among the best of them.
On how Danny Mwanga and Kris Boyd are playing together
Fine. Mike Fucito as well. We have three forwards that we can count on and rely on and we feel confident about. They have all been working hard this week, they have all been pleading their case to play and start the game on the training field so come game time we will find out who starts.
On if Mike Fucito will have some added motivation thanks to his past as a Sounders player
Yeah, for sure.There is always an extra incentive in the game when a team has traded you. I don't think that they traded him because they didn't like him, or they didn't rate him as a player. I think they traded him to get the rights to Eddie Johnson who they signed. I think that the Seattle staff would like Mike Fucito to be there to this day, but fortunately for us we managed to get ahold of him.
I think he is a very infectious character. He really works hard in training every day and always comes in with a smile on his face. He is in a positive, buoyant mood, so we will see what happens on Sunday.
On the challenges that Seattle present as a team
We know their strengths. They know our strengths. We know their weaknesses and vise versa, so when the players step onto the field in games like this it generally doesn't come down to coaching or tactics, it comes down to desire. It is down to the player that wants to win his individual battles and if you win enough of those individual battles you'll win the game.
We know that [Mauro Rosales] is a good player. We know that [Fredy Montaro] is a good player and [Osvaldo Alonso]. They've got good players and we've got good players. We've got to produce this weekend and stop talking about how good we can be and start showing how good we can be. They are not winning games left, right, and center either so they will be coming in here not probably full of confidence but looking forward to the game the same as we are.
On Danny Mwanga's level of fitness
He's got a little bit of a dead leg. He's been complaining about it a little bit, so we have tried to take it a little bit easy with him. He has train fully this morning but he'll be getting therapy later right up until game time.
On Kris Boyd's and Steven Smith's return to match fitness after their travels
They are fine. Obviously, with Boyd he was back into the swing of things after two or three days training, got a couple of good looks at goal, but I think that this week has been a good break for him from games and just getting some good, hard sessions in. He's done a little bit of running and a little bit of strength work with John Ireland, so he is starting to feel better and, as I say, I think that everybody in the camp, everybody that is going to start the game, should be looking forward to it.
On if he is ready for Sunday's rivalry match
Yeah, I look forward to it, like every game. There's a bit of added spice coming into this one, but we look forward to it. We know it is going to be a big game and one we look to win.
On what he has heard about the Seattle-Portland rivalry
You look worldwide at derbys and I think it all comes down to the same thing: it's hatred for each other. It's as simple as that. The truth is that you don't like each other and we will be in Portland fighting for it, fighting for Portland. We go in there looking to win the game and they will come here looking to win the game. It's a rivalry game to look forward to and one that we hope we can take three points from.
On if playing is a rivalry game is different from other games
I think it is easier. As a footballer, if you can't get yourself up for these games then you've got a problem. We look forward to it with confidence. We've trained well all week. I know we keep saying that but I believe that. If you look at the first half last week against LA we probably should have been goals up again. Yeah, we could have lost an early one, but we came back. We've lost the game and we're dissappointed again, but this Sunday gives us a different challenge. It's a local game, it's going to be a tough game, but we look forward to it and, as I said earlier, if you can't get yourself up for these games then I don't think you should be playing soccer.
On if form does not count in rivalry games
Yeah, I've come across it a lot of times when, back home, one side of the Old Firm is struggling, we come in, and you walk away with the three points, so we know that we ain't had the best of seasons but there are results on Sunday that can change a whole season. We look forward to it, we're ready to go, and I'm sure that come kickoff time on Sunday Seattle will know they are in a game.