The Timbers held practice today at Jeld-Wen Field for the first time since their 5-0 loss to FC Dallas on Saturday. With only one day of practice between their two game road trip through California and Texas last week and tomorrow's friendly match against Aston Villa, the Timbers kept practice short today, heading inside to watch the tape of Saturday's loss together shortly after eleven.
While on the pitch, the Timbers played a game of 8v8 with three teams rotating in. (I started off the day by going to the Beaverton training facility instead of JW this morning so I couldn't tell you what the team did during warm ups. Oops.) The team seemed intense and frustrated with their mistakes during practice both of which resulted in some loud, fast moving games.
Steven Smith did not practice today thanks to a swollen knee. According Gavin Wilkinson, Smith should be ready to play by this weekend against Chivas.
More practice notes plus quotes from Gavin Wilkinson and Jack Jewsbury after the jump.
Eric Brunner and Mike Fucito were both dressed for practice today, but neither participated in the 8v8's. Instead, both Brunner and Fucito stayed on the sidelines and stretched while talking to the coaches and trainers.
Rodney Wallace, after over a month of working his way back to fitness form a sprained ankle, participated in practice today and did not show any hesitation in the 8v8's.
Trialist Salim Arrache, who practiced with the team for the last two weeks, was no longer with the team today.
On his comment about some players quitting on Saturday
I've watched the game twice and I think that everyone is emotional and everyone has opinions and I think it is one word and if you want to focus on the word quit you could. The weather, whatever adversity was facing us, I don't think we were mentally tough enough. In looking forward, that was a disaster and what I said to the group today was, that has to, basically, make us a lot stronger, we have to move forward, we have to prepare for Villa tomorrow, which is going to be a good game for us, and then we must win against Chivas. We must right the ship.
On what he is looking for against Aston Villa from the players
I don't think it is a lack of ability. When you start to look at the technical ability of the players that we have, I don't think you can question the actual individual ability. What you can question is the desire to succeed, our ability to face adversity and be mentally tough enough to overcome it.
It is not just the players. I think that people misrepresent that sometimes you are trying to throw players under the bus. It is a collective group. They are a reflection of us, so it is the whole team, and what we are looking at is mentally can we be a lot tougher? We could have scored when Fucito broke against Dallas, we could have not conceeded that own goal, but would that have changed the outcome? Were we strong enough to deal with the conditions, to deal with a Dallas team that was highly motivated?
What I am looking for going into Villa is, do we have the players that are willing to work through the difficult stretches? Do we have players that are willing to roll their sleeves up? I can't question the technical side of it. You start to look at some of the combinations in training, you start to look at some of the ability, and I don't think that can be questioned. I think they are as good as any other players in the league, technically. It is the other pieces, it is their ability to get the job done, our ability to paint that picture for them to get that job done.
On if the coaching staff could be doing more to help with the mental aspect of the game
You can always do more, regardless of what position you are in. Whether you are a player that has just had a great game or whether you've just won a game and and you are the coach in charge of that game there is always more to be done and I think that we have to make sure that we believe in that and adopt that mentality throughout the whole organization. I know the office staff do a tremendous job in the doing that with the tickets and with the sponsorships. We have got to be a positive reflection of the organization in the same way that regardless of if we've had success or failure.
Failure gets you feedback. That is the one good thing about it. It is how you deal with that feedback and how you move forward. For us as a group it is an important time.
On the team's confidence in their own abilities
Self belief and confidence makes or breaks an athlete. I think when you start to look at why teams going on runs when they are unbeaten, the team, or quite often the dynamic of the team, doesn't change, what changes is self belief and confidence.
I think we are a little bit short on that right now, so maybe as a coaching staff we have to find a way to manufacture that, but also as a group we are asking for a lot of reflection, we are asking for them to analyze what they did or what they didn't do and see if they can make improvements as players.
On picking the starting line up after so many changes last week
I've said to the group today that everything is open. I think against Chivas we were unlucky not to get a point. I think the second half, when you start to look at the way the team played and the amount of pressure that we were able to put on Chivas, I honestly think we were unlucky not to get a result. We brought on fresh legs against Dallas for various reasons. We have got some older, experienced players that, going into those conditions, probably wouldn't have put in the performance that I would have liked them to have so we brought in some fresh legs, changed some things around, and removed excuses such as going into games tired.
Now, I would say, we will se how the Villa game goes. A lot of players are going to participate in the game and it'll be interesting to see but at home generally we get players that are excited to play here, players that work, players that keep the ball. Now we just need to make sure we come into the Chivas game with the same level of confidence, that that result in Dallas doesn't negatively effect us, and in a bigger way see if we can build something.
On why certain players did not start against Dallas
I think with [Kris Boyd] and Steven Smith it is a different scenario altogether. You are looking at where they are from, their ability to play in those conditions, how many times have they played in those conditions in the past, and that lead to the coaching staff making a decision and it is one that the players don't disagree with.
With Jack it is a situation where he has put in a lot of minutes this year. He looked a little bit tired at the end of the Chivas game and for me it was a judgement call.
On Steven Smith's status
He just has a little but of swelling in his knee and he said he is good to go this weekend. We will probably sit him for tomorrow and just see how he recovers. We don't want to make it a big issue, it is just a bit of tendonitis.
On the team's approach to tomorrow's game against Aston Villa
I think any game you go into you go into to win. Some of them are more important than others. The Chivas game is very, very important. We don't want to negatively impact our ability to put out the strongest lune up possible against Chivas but the starting line up tomorrow will have a lot of well known faces. It is important that we come out and play well and try to get a result.
On if the players are playing for their jobs
I think that professional athletes should realize that they are always playing for jobs. It's part of the profession. There is always somebody else. Everybody is replaceable in any position. With athletes there is always somebody else that is willing to work a little bit harder and it is whether you can stay ahead of the curve and continue to work harder than that player, continue to produce more on the field.
With professional athletes it is a different dynamic entirely. I would say that every moment that you go onto the field and don't play as well as you could you are giving somebody else the opportunity to take your job and there has got to be that responsibility as part of that organization's trying to build depth. For us it is very important that every player gives a value to every position and realizes that they need to perform day in and day out, week in and week out.
On what to expect from Aston Villa
It is a quality group, a premiership group, and with Brendan Rodgers (EDIT: as people have pointed out, Paul Lambert is actually Villa's coach. Rodgers coaches Liverpool) coming in he is well known for trying to play good football, so they probably are starting to build their identity, trying to decide the way they want to play this season and, as he said, he is a manager not a magician, so he is trying to work with the pieces that he has got and get the most out of it possible. What I think we will see from them is a team that is trying to find their identity, a team that will try and play good football, and some very talented players.
On if the team would bring John Spencer back now
I don't think anybody ever threw John under the bus in that regard. Obviously the decision painted a picture but I think [Merritt Paulson] quoted some philosophical differences and philosophical differences is generally someone's make up, somebody's beliefs, and they are very hard to change, so I wouldn't go about it that way.
Do I want to be in this position? No. That is the honest truth. I keep myslef relatively busy and it is not fair on anybody, but it is the situation that I find myself in and I wouldn't say that right now that would make a huge difference. What I would say is that we are finding out a lot about the players, we are finding out a lot about players to move forward with as an organization, and also for me one of the keys is still we have gone about the process and we have already interviewed two head coaches, we are bringing in a few other coaches, and the search will continue so that is a priority as well.
Quotes form Jack Jewsbury coming up shortly.