Today's closed practice at the Timbers training center saw the introduction of forward Danny Mwanga to the team. Mwanga took part in the full practice and was mobbed by the press afterward.
Once again Eric Brunner was not at practice as he continues to recover from a concussion suffered against Vancouver. Sebastian Rincon, who missed practice earlier in the week and only warmed up with the team yesterday, was still out on the field at the end of practice. During warm ups today, Rincon still looked somewhat tenative in his movements.
Steven Smith and Kris Boyd were both still away for their weddings. Although I reported yesterday that both players would be back for the game against the LA Galaxy on the 17th, Smith will not be back until after the game.
The Timbers players away on national team duty are all still absent. Jake Gleeson
will be playing tonight played last night in New Zealand's surprise 2-0 loss to New Caledonia, while Lovel Palmer, Futty Danso, Rodney Wallace, and Steve Purdy will all play tomorrow tonight. Wallace and Purdy will be the first Timbers to play against each other with their national teams as Costa Rica and El Salvador face off.
More practice notes, plus quotes from Danny Mwanga and Steve Simmons, after the jump.
Practice today did have several unusual people in attendance. Mark Sherrod and Andrew Ribiero of the Timbers U23s practiced with the team, probably to provide bodies for a scrimmage. Meanwhile, Merritt Paulson, Gavin Wilkinson, Jose Adolfo Valencia, and Oregon State coach Steve Simmons all watched practice from the sidelines.
With practices closing earlier and opening back up later, there has not been much to see other than some players relaxing and talking to the coaches.
(I had a little technical difficulty with my voice recorder for the first question so a little bit of the response was cut off.)
On how he felt when he found out he had been traded to the Timbers
I said to myself, I get to go and play in my hometown in front of my family and friends. It was just excitment.
On his current level of fitness
I am feeling good. I had a couple of knocks at the beginning of the season but I am getting better and better. I have another week of training with the guys to prepare for the LA game.
On his first impression of training with the Timbers
It was a lot of fun. I remember playing against these guys, but now, being on the same team and getting to work together, there are a lot of talented players here and they are great guys, all of them.
On the adjustment to playing professionally in his third year
At this point in my career I think that it is just about being consistent. I think there was a couple of game where I came in strong and did well and some games where I was not at my best, so at this point in my career I think the most important thing is just being consistent.
On what John Spencer's expectations are for him
He just wants me to play my game. I think that all of them did a really good job bringing me back here, which I really appreciated and I am really thankful for what they have done for me and my career. Coming here he just told me to play my game and get my confidence back.
On how much he enjoys playing soccer
A lot. I don't think there is a number that could describe how much I love this game.
On what happened in Philadelphia
We don't know. It is a business part of it. Players come and go. I was there for two years and a half and I thank them for drafting me and giving me an opportunity to start my career. Now I am here with my new team and I am very excited about it and I am just trying to focus on my time here and on helping my team.
On if he would fit in with the Timbers system better than he did with the Philadelphia Union
I definitely agree with that. I am more of a nine and a half. I am not a target striker, I am the guy who plays underneath the striker, trying to run at the back line. For the last few games of this season I thought I was more used as a target striker which is not my fault, it is something that I was still trying to learn.
On working with Kris Boyd
It is a good opportunity. I mean, we all know what kind of player he is and what he has done in the Scottish league and I think that it is a wonderful opportunity. It is an honor for me to play with a guy like that.
On how long it will take to get used to playing alongside Boyd
I don't think it is going to take long. Obviously we have got to get to know eachother and cultivate and understanding of the runs and stuff like that, but I don't think it is going to take long. Today at training was my first day with the guys, but I still feel like we had a really good understanding of where to move and when to play the ball.
On if his trade to the Timbers is a second chance
For me, personally, this is a new beginning. I remember being in high school and watching the Timbers play. No I have actually get a chance to play for the Timbers, so for me, after two years in Philadelphia, now it is almost like a fresh start. I am excited about it.
On his family's reaction to the trade
It was just excitement. Everybody was happy. Now they actually get a chance to watch me play a lot more and be involved with my career. When I was away it was too far, they could only make it to a few games. Now they will have a chance to watch me pay and be a part of my career.
On playing in front of the Timbers Army
I remember playing here [with Philadelphia] and everybody was rooting for the Timbers and against us. Playing in an environment like that, even if you are on the opposite side, it is a good feeling. The Timbers Army is one of the best in the league, so now I have a chance to play in a town where the fans all get excited about the game. I think it is big, it is a huge motivation for all of us.