With The LA Galaxy coming to town tomorrow, the Timbers underwent their final preparations for the two teams' third match up of the season at practice today. Training today was a closed session that, at an hour and fifteen minutes, ran somewhat longer than John Spencer's usual pre-match practices, which usually were between forty five minutes and an hour long.
Little looked to have changed on the Timbers injury front from yesterday with Rodney Wallace and Chris Taylor both mising practice as they recover form their respective issues. Wallace is still battling a strained ankle that he picked up while with the Costa Rican national team and aggravated in the Timber's 3-0 loss to Colorado. Taylor is out after getting hip surgery earlier in the week that could hold him out of practice for some time.
Also absent form practice was Jake Gleeson who is currently with the New Zealand Olympic team. The Oly Whites tied Japan on Wednesday in a warm up match in which Gleeson played ninety minutes.
More practice notes plus quotes from Kosuke Kimura and Gavin Wilkinson after the jump.
Salim Arrache continued his trial with the team today, although practice was closed earlier than it was on Tuesday or Thursday so we did not get much more of a look at him.
On adjusting to Portland
It has been really hectic for me with the schedule and all the games, it has been tough for me but, at the same time, it is really exciting for me. I needed a fresh start and I think this is the right place for me. We have a beautiful training facility, we have a beautiful stadium, we have beautiful fans and all the people, and it is a pretty big deal here. Soccer is a pretty big deal in Portland and that is really good that we have that pressure that he have to be successful and I think I am up for the challenge, for sure.
I've been in the league for six years, it will be seven next year, but I have been there. I am not younger anymore. I think that I can bring that experience to this young group and as long as we keep going I think that we can get it, especially at a home game when we have all the fans behind us. We just need to start creating the momentum towards the playoffs first and that starts tomorrow.
On getting a new coach immediately after joining the team
I got the call at like twelve a.m. and I have to leave my home in Colorado at five a.m. I got here at nine thirty, [John Spencer] told me to train with the team right away and next thing I know I was in Salt Lake playing a game and I came back and coach got let go and, you know, I was really excited to work with John Spencer but at the same time this is a business and, just like I said, at the Portland Timbers we have pressure that we have to be really successful because it is not a big town and we have only basketball and soccer and soccer is a really big deal so we have to be successful. It's not just coach, that goes for everybody: all the coaching staff, all the people working for [the team], and all the guys on the team. Even though they say they are young, it doesn't matter.
If you don't do the job the time will come. We have to make sure we work hard as a unit and get each other's back, and we just have got to keep working hard.
On the team's need to be more vocal
Like I said, I've been in the league for a while. I know the players and I've played against a bunch of players in this league, so I know their tendencies, I know the teams' tendencies, so I can bring that experience to the group. That will help us, but at the same time the older guys, a couple guys have been in the league three or four years, they need to start opening their mouths and they need to keep doing it because it seems like sometimes if you have a good group of guys sometimes they are too nice, too naive, and they are a little bit scared of getting into other guys too much, but at the same time we need that. We need to know what everybody thinks. Maybe if I can do that, help Gavin, help everybody, [Jack Jewsbury] and [Troy Perkins], and all the experienced players that would be great.
It doesn't just come from the pitch or the field. We have to do it outside the field. We have to understand each other, understand how we play with each other. That comes from me. I am vocal and I can bring that to the table and I hope I can help the team.
On fitting in with the rest of the team
They are a bunch of good people here, a good organization, good coaching staff, good teammates, and I will be good friends with them, for sure. It was easy for me to get into the team. They were so welcoming and I was excited, so it is a really good balance. I think I am getting into the team really well and adjusting and when the time comes I think I can do well. I am excited to work with these guys and hopefully we can get into the playoffs and we can do well in the rest of the season.
On the state of the team ahead of tomorrow's match
It was a short session and right to the point. It went well, I suppose. That is where we are at. With the game tomorrow and the weather and everything else it is important for them to process everything. They know what we are asking of them now and hopefully we can get it done.
On his frame of mind
It is just a matter of grinding through it at this point in time. There is a lot on my plate and obviously the focus has to be the first team, has to be the players, but obviously there is a lot on my plate and it is just a matter of getting through it and hopefully tomorrow morning I will catch my breath and go again.
On what changes he will make
Personnel-wise, minimal changes. I think I said form the start, as limited disruption as we can possibly have, being that there has been a lot happening and everyone is well aware of that. There will be one or two minor modifications as far as what we are doing tactically, but that is just to compensate for who we are playing against. You probably won't notice an awful lot and hopefully we get out there and get the job done, as I said.
On David Beckham
He's been a tremendous professional, he's been a great ambassador for the sport in this country and he is extremely talented; probably one of the crossers of the ball that has ever played the game, so that is how I would describe it: a unique ability and if you look at how much he has to deal with and how much he goes through obviously there is a ton of respect for him as a person and what he has done for the sport in this country.
On getting the team to focus after a turbulent week
I think it is a fine balance. You can't make light of the situation, it is a serious situation, but also hopefully we are all doing something that we love being involved with. The players are good professionals and with I've asked them to mentally prepare themselves and get over what had happened as quickly as possible while still reflecting on it and if we are all accountable we should all give a little bit more.
On his expectation for tomorrow
With any professional team the expectation is always to win. In saying that, we want to keep the ball, we want to move the ball, we want to get our younger players performing in a consistent manner, and to get a great result. What I am looking for is a work ethic second to none. I think it has to be a reflection of the passion our fans bring. At home generally we have done that well, but tomorrow is no different. We need to go out and we need to outwork the opponent and we need to look to keep the ball and when we have it, do something with it.
On drawing inspiration from last year's 3-0 over LA
Their team has changed, our team has changed, and the standings have changed as well; I think when LA came here last year they were unbeated I blieve, so we had a lot to prove. We were coming off a rough stretch and the boys were definitely motivated and hopefully the motivation is there for this weekend.
We are both different teams this year. We have looked at them over the last couple of weeks, looked at their strengths, looked t our strengths, and hopefully we come out on top.
On moving back to coaching
It has been a big mind adjustment. I am used to sitting in the office and grinding away for as many hours as possible each day. Now it is a matter of balancing both and also every player has their own personality and we have got a lot of different nationalities, a lot of different personalities within the team and trying to get to know all of those within one week has been difficult. Trying to get them all tuned in has been very difficult. I am focused on the eleven and the eighteen and we will take it from there.
On LA's set piece against the Timbers in May
I just think it was a great run by Landon Donovan, to be honest, and it impeded our goalkeeper but it is part of the game. I think he is a very intelligent and very experienced player and we have got to be aware of that.
On LA's attack
I think that with those two players, with [Robbie Keane] and with Donovan, you have got to be aware of where they are at at all times defensively. Our two central defenders have a job to do and, by and large, you rate the success of central defenders on stopping the forwards on their team form being successful. With Landon Donovan and with Keane they are both very talented players and, whether it is luck or good fortune or a mix of both along with a hell of a lot of talent we will wait and see. Our defenders have their job, they are well aware of them, we have pointed out everything that we possibly could to them. Now it is just a matter of processing it and getting the job done.