The Timbers held a short, closed practice today at their Beaverton training facility before they fly out to Colorado later today.
Rodney Wallace practiced with the team today, staying on the field for the whole time for the second time this week (the other being yesterday, which I missed). Whether he was traveling with the team to Colorado was unknown, but he looked sharp in warm ups and did not seem to be in any discomfort after practice.
Kalif Alhassan and Eric Brunner both continued to miss practice thanks to injury. Alhassan has been rehabbing his hamstring at the practice facility this week and was in the team room after practice. Brunner is still suffering from the effects a concussion and has not been cleared to practice.
After practice was the usual melange of players doing shooting drills, kicking the ball around, and enjoying some briefly blue skies before they had to hurry off to the airport.
- Danny Mwanga was working with several of the coaches on shooting drills at the far end of the pitch after practice and he was burying them consistently. It seems that the percentage of shots going in the back of the net at training this week has been much higher than in the weeks before.
- I have noticed the Timbers keepers working on their distribution at the end of almost every practice recently, which is definitely a good thing.
- Rather than running shooting drills as he often does at the end of practice, John Spencer was taking some shots himself and he still has it. There were a few errant attempted chips from distance but anywhere near the box he looked deadly.
- Joe Bendik also has a fairly wicked shot. He and Spencer took a few shots from the top of the box with Brian Rowe in goal and hit the side netting almost every time. One unfortunate shot did bounce off the post, off the back of Rowe's head, and in, but I missed who took it.
On the mental toughness needed to play in the altitude and heat of Colorado
I think it is similar to last weekend when coach talked about heart and desire and the passion to fight through it. We've known about it all week, they've known about it, and both teams have to deal with it. It is what it is and we have got to go there and look to build on what was a great performance last week.
On how the Seattle game has affect the team this week
I think that in the locker room things have been a little more loose and the guys are feeling good about themselves, so hopefully we can carry that over into the game this weekend.
On playing at altitude
I've been there before in the preseason and a few times with clubs back home. It is a difficult place to play football, at altitude, but it's part and parcel of being a professional sportsman. You've got to deal with all the things that you are faced with and we go there of the back of a great result last week and we look forward to the game.
On if there is anything the team can do to prepare for the altitude and heat in Colorado
I think it is part and parcel of the game. It is only an excuse at the end of the day. It is the same for both teams. We go in and we look to win the game, we come back and we look forward to San Jose on Tuesday night, but the most important thing is we go tomorrow and put on a performance that deserves a victory and, as I said, we go with confidence and we look forward to it.
On how to keep up the team's momentum
You go in and look to win the game, as we do every week. Sometimes you put in performances that are good enough to win games you don't win them, but you battle away and you win games. I thought last week for sixty minutes we were tremendous and then, as normal, the opposition has a few chances, but overall we deserved the victory and we look forward to going to Colorado tomorrow.
On if the team has put in a full ninety minute effort this season
I think we have. We have worked hard. I think that we turned the corner in terms of being mentally prepared for ninety minutes. You look at the games, even last week maybe, a few months ago up to the game last week and we battled away, we fought on corners, we battled for ninety minutes and we got what we deserved which was the three points. It will be the same tomorrow again. It's not an easy game here. We go there and we look forward to it, as I said, but it is up to us to concentrate and match our individual battles and win there.
On the difference in attitude after the break
When we had the break I was back for my wedding and [Steven Smith] was back for his wedding, when I came back there was a different attitude towards training. It was a lot sharper, everybody was working harder, and I think now we are reaping the benefits of it. I'm not saying that at the beginning of the season we weren't doing that, but I think that we have gotten to a level where maybe we should have closed out games before but we probably weren't mentally strong enough to do it and now I feel as if we are there, we're grinding our results, and I think that over the last six or seven games we've not really dropped a lot of points. We have picked up some points, even against tough opponents and tomorrow will be tough again.