The Timbers held a closed practice today at their Beaverton Training Facility. With a number of players still missing and new acquisition Danny Mwanga not yet arrived, the group at practice was a small one.
Mwanga, who the Timbers picked up yesterday from the Philadelphia Union, should be arriving in time to practice with the team tomorrow, leaving him just over a week to get acclimated before the Timbers take on the Galaxy in LA.
Eric Brunner was still missing from practice due to a concussion, with no estimate on his return available. Sebastian Rincon, who missed the team's last practice on Tuesday was back on the pitch for warm-ups, although he left early when the team transitioned to a more strenuous running workout.
Steven Smith and Kris Boyd were both overseas for their respective weddings today. Boyd has been absent since last week, while Smith left yesterday.
Both should be back in time for next week's game. UPDATE: Boyd will be back for the LA game but Smith will not, which the team was aware of when they brought him on.
The Timbers' international call-ups were also still with their national teams as World Cup qualifiers come up this weekend. Jake Gleeson will take on the Solomon Islands tomorrow, while Lovel Palmer, Rodney Wallace, Futty Danso, and Steve Purdy will all take part in their qualifiers on Saturday.
On acquiring Danny Mwanga
He's a player that we've been looking out for since we came to MLS and obviously Piotr Novak rated him very highly. The Union didn't want to let him go because he was their first round pick, so when the opportunity came up to get him, we jumped right on it. We got the deal done as quick as we could so that he couldn't go anywhere else. We're delighted to have him.
On if the team needed a jump start in the attack
No, I don't think we needed a jump start, but to get a player of that quality you have got to give up a good player. We brought [Jorge Perlaza] in with all the greatest of intentions to score goals. For whatever reason it never panned out, probably the same as Philly would say about Danny. They brought him in to score a lot of goals. I think it was just the right move at the right time and a good piece for us.
Danny has connections here; family connections, high school friends, and he came right through the system here. We hope that bringing in someone who has been integrated into the city before has tremendous pride when he pulls on that uniform to go out and score goals for the fans.
On what Danny Mwanga does well
I think, obviously, he's a big body, good pace, plays well with his back to goal, links up well, and his movement and his intelligence with and without the ball. We hope that he will be a good partner for Kris Boyd.
On Mwanga playing alongside Boyd
I think that the more, better, players that you can have on the field to play at one time it gives you that opportunity to create. The last two games we have created a tremendous amount of chances and it's up to our forwards now to get their foot or their head onto the end of the ball and put the ball into the back of the net.
It's a good trade for us and we're very excited to have him. I think that he's excited to become a Portland Timber.
On how Mwanga was scouted
We don't watch film to see a player. We watch a player when we've played against him. We know what he is all about. He was a tremendous college player, playing here in Oregon. Sometimes you get a move to a different club, different scenery, different formations, and it works better for you. We are not looking to what Danny has done in the past. We know what we have got with him and we hope that he can be a tremendous success in the future.
On how the loss to Cal FC affected the Timbers plans to pick up Mwanga
If we had beat Cal FC and we had beat Seattle, it is all ifs and buts for us. He became available. We tried to get him when I became head coach here in MLS because I thought it would be a great one for the fans. A young player, coming out of Oregon State, number one pick, it would have been a good one for the fans to get a buzz about.
We tried really hard this off season down in Florida when we had Piotr Novak in front of us. We had numerous negotiations with them to try and get him again and they were still reluctant to give him up, but the way that they have started out their season they are looking to mix up things and bring in new fresh faces and the opportunity arose. Gavin asked me, would I be interested in getting the deal done and he went and did it.
On if Philadelphia had inquired about Perlaza previously
I can't comment on what Philly are thinking, what they want. All I can say is that we are delighted to get Mwanga. I think it was a good trade for us. He is a good player that has tremendous potential and I think that he has proved in this league that he can score goals. In his time in the league he has scored a decent number of goals.
It is up to us to get him the right amount of service, it is up to him to come with desire, both on the training field and the game field, to be successful. If he does come with that attitude, he will be successful.
On if he talked to Perlaza before his departure
I did. Me and Jorge have had a very good relationship since he came here. He wanted to score more goals than he has done, myself included because he was the first signing that we made. Sometimes strikers come to a club and it happens for them or it doesn't. It is just the opportunity to get Danny here was just too big an opportunity to turn down.
On if the team will be making any other moves
The transfer window opens soon and European players and players all around the world will become available. We're just like any other club, as I've stated before, that if we get a player put in front of us that we feel can better the squad then we will certainly have a look at it and if the financials are right and we can afford it within the salary cap then we will bring someone in, but you can't just say you are looking to get this, this, and this, because sometimes players don't become available.
On the break
I think it works good for us right now because we've got so many guys away with their national teams. If we have got to go play an MLS game right now with so many bodies missing we would be in a little bit of trouble. For us it has been a good break in order to get guys back healthy.
We've worked really hard and we've done a few double sessions and worked on a few things that we felt needed correcting. I think that the guys are very chirpy because the week's went well for us.
On if he ever anticipated the team's struggles on attack at the beginning of the season
Not at all. We had a good preseason and we had a lot of guys fit and healthy. We picked up a couple of injuries to key personnel, but we are getting them all healthy now. As I say, there are a lot of games to be played and we are looking forward to them games.
On how long Boyd and Smith will be away
They are away getting married. Boydie gets married tomorrow, Smithie next week, so they will have a few days with their wives and then they will be back over. The two of them have cancelled their honeymoons, which were planned before we signed them.
You can't tell players that they can't get married. Sometimes you can give them advice not to get married, but, as I say, you can't tell them that they can't. They've done well for us by canceling their honeymoons but we knew what we were getting into before we signed them.
The quicker they get back the better. I don't think their wives will be saying that, but from a coaching standpoint and a football standpoint we need to get them back.
Hopefully [they won't be] too tired after their home honeymoon with their new partners, but they will probably be putting in a lot of work off the field and it will be nice to get them back on the field.
On Eric Brunner
He's still having headaches. He had a concussion. We've had a lot of concussions this year and with the Eddie Johnson situation we are very, very sensitive towards it, so we need to be careful with him.