Donovan Ricketts took in his first practice with the Portland Timbers today as the team held a closed training session at their Beaverton practice facility. While we did not get to see Ricketts in an actual game situation, he looked good in warm ups, getting down quickly and making some nice saves, and seemed genuinely pleased to be in Portland when facing the press after practice.
Lovel Palmer and Steve Purdy both received call ups this week as their respective national teams will face off on Wednesday. Palmer is still in Portland practicing with the Timbers and will leave to join the Jamaican national team on Monday. Purdy has already joined El Salvador ahead of their game against Guatamala tomorrow. Both players should rejoin the team ahead of the Timber's game against New York next Sunday.
Jake Gleeson, who is recovering from a pulled groin sustained during his time with the New Zealand Olympic team, was back out on the pitch after leaving practice early yesterday. Gleeson stayed with the team for the full practice today.
Jack Jewsbury was back practicing with the team today after missing practice thanks to a bout with gastrointestinitis.
New signing Ian Hogg is still waiting on his visa with no word yet on when he will be able to join the team.
Quotes from Gavin Wilkinson, Donovan Ricketts, Mike Toshack, and Jake Gleeson after the jump.
On how Donovan Ricketts looked in his first day of practice
He looked good. He has been around the game for a long time and he is a very good professional and he definitely look the part and he did well.
On how long it will take for Ricketts to get incorporated into the team
There is always a settling in process and it really does depend on their personality. With a player of Donovan's experience, I would hope that the transition is a very quick one. When you bring a foreigner in we have always said it takes time to settle in, time to become productive. With Donovan, he has played in MLS for many years and been successful in MLS and our opinion is that he will settle in very quickly.
He looked the part today in training; he's already started to learn the players' names and was starting to boss them about, which is a positive for a goalkeeper.
On what Ricketts brings to the team
For me and the staff it is the presence, the fact that you have a commanding figure in the box, somebody that can come out and collect things, somebody that is good for young players. We keep talking about that we have got a young squad, we are looking at one or two players to be mentors. For me he is that person.
He is not one that loves the media, he shies away form that a little bit, but he is very honest in his approach. With that, he wants to do what is right for the team. He is not somebody that does things for his own, prestige, as such. He is very humble.
On the team's leadership
I think that Troy was a good leader. Donovan is a good leader. We've not got rid of a leader and brought somebody in that is not a leader. You have also got Jack Jewsbury, you've got Kris Boyd who has played at the highest level, you've got David Horst, you've got some good competitors that are good leaders and it is a matter of bringing that out in them a little bit more.
On the number of changes made to the team this week
It has [been a week of change]. I said when I came it there would not be a lot of changes. Two changes isn't what I consider to be a lot.
On changing the team's goalkeeper
Changing any player for me is a huge thing, not just the goalkeeper. When the player is a tremendous person and a tremendous professional, it makes it extremely hard. That is where you look at the staff, get other staff involved in the decision, and it is a complicated decision and it takes a long time to get to that conclusion, but whenever you give up a good piece it is a difficult decision, full stop. It is not just a goalkeeper, it is any player that has played significant minutes.
On the number of changes the Timbers have made since joining MLS
You know, I don't think the team has made a lot of changes. I think that when you start to look at the other teams that have come in, other expansion teams, the number of changes that they have made, I don't think that we have made a lot of changes to be honest.
I think we have been very reasonable in giving players adequate time here to do well and always looking to upgrade when possible. That is regardless of who and what position. As a team and as an organization we want to continue to get better. We want to get the best players possible and we want to get the players that want to play here and give them the ability to succeed.
I don't think we've made many changes, to be honest. I think we've been limited in the number of changes that we've made and the players that were spoken about, the ones that have potential and the young players, we've been very consistent with them in the training environment and the game environment.
On why he thought Mike Chabala chose to be traded to DC
I am not going to comment on a player. Things can get blown out of proportion, as we've seen. With Chabala, he's a very likable person and it was a situation where I put the decision back at him to make the decision and to find out what he wanted and he was involved in that decision.
For Chabala, he was a good piece for us, but in order to do what was right for him he wanted to move.
On what he wants to get out of the team's upcoming scrimmage against Oregon State
We don't have enough games for the reserve team. I think we are limited in the number of opportunities that we get to develop them, so it was created as a benefit to Oregon State and definitely a benefit to our younger players. I think you'll see a lot of the younger players out there tomorrow trying to get some minutes in their legs.
It is a game environment so we start to evaluate, we start to expect a little bit more, and it is just another opportunity for the young players to impress.
On how it feels to be in Portland
It feels good. I have see a lot of Portland on the TV, but I have never been here personally. I am here and and I am looking forward to it.
On his expectations
I expect a loyal following to continue following the team they love.
On being traded
I am going to give you what my mom would say, sometimes things happen for a reason. God works things for the best, so I am here and I am looking forward to the challenge.
In this game you are sleeping today, you wake up and you are yawning tomorrow, and they tell you must go. Nothing surprises me. It is a good move, a good team, good fans. What can I be unhappy about? I am very happy.
On how much he enjoys playing soccer
I love the game. When you get to my age, which is 21, you get to appreciate the game more. It is a wonderful job. You come out and enjoy yourself every day. I love what I do.
On getting to know his new teammates
That is the most difficult part. You have got to learn how everyone plays and you have got to adjust accordingly and I have got to get on the same page as everyone else, so that is a difficult part, but when you are playing with good teammates and good players it is always easy.
On how long it takes to adjust
Sometimes it takes a few matches, sometimes a few practice sessions, sometimes an entire season, but let's hope it isn't an entire season.
On practicing with the team for the first time
It was a good practice. I got to meet a couple of the guys. We worked with the back four, which is good. I learned their movements and how Gavin wants them to play, so it was a good experience.
On what he has heard about Portland
Season tickets go quickly and I am looking forward to seeing the first cut of the timber.
On getting a slice of the log for a shut out
Yeah, I need that. They'll be slicing a lot of wood.
On what he has heard about the Timbers Army
That is what I am looking forward to. That is my loyal support right there, man. I am new in town, so just show me a good time.
On if he has watched many Timber games
Whenever it is one TV I watch the Timbers games. It is a nice atmosphere and when you play soccer you dream of those kind of atmospheres.
On what he needs to pass on to Joe Bendik and Jake Gleeson as mentor on the team
First, work ethic. You have got to have a proper work ethic. Maybe to just lead by example. If you see something to correct them. You keep talking to them and encourage them, share from your experiences.
On taking over for a fan favorite in Troy Perkins
You don't expect to be taken in immediately. Soccer is game you play into people's hearts, so by your performances I think you just get people to follow you and like you.
I am not here to take anything away from Troy. He did a lot for this club and it is good that the fans love him. That shows that you have a loyal support and I play into their hearts and do the same. I wish Troy all the best there is and I am a Timber now so I am looking forward to my experience here.
On working with a storied keeper like Donovan Ricketts
Well, I have worked with a few: Pat Onstad and other goalkeepers as well. He brings in what you would expect, and what Troy had as well, a good work ethic and he is very professional, so it is what you would expect.
On getting Ricketts integrated with the team
That is the good things about it: it is not a young talent that we have brought in over halfway through, it is an older head that we have brought in. Some of the work we did today was with the back four to get him up to speed with them, so having all that experience that he does have, makes that process a little bit easier.
On the importance of having a dependable keeper
That is goalkeeping at the professional level. Troy has been a very consistent goalkeeper here and Donovan will bring us the consistency and be able to bring a lot of other things as well.
On building a relationship with a new player
Goalkeepers are goalkeepers and if you give them the time and they know that you care about their performance they are going to work for you. With someone like Donovan, he is thirty five years old, I am not going to be teaching him too many things.
It is just getting him ready for Saturdays, making sure that he feels confident, so it is more of a mental thing, making sure that he has ticked the boxes and saying, you know I feel good Saturday going in to the game. The young guys, they have got to try and earn their spot during the week fighting with each other. He has got to do it on Saturdays.
On how Ricketts is holding up physically
He is fine for a goalkeeper. You can take maybe ten years back as a goalkeeper. Maybe not that much. I had Pat Onstad in Houston. Pat was 38 when he got there and 40 when he left and had similar qualities to Donovan not only as a goalkeeper but in his approach. You can see that in how he has looked after his body.
On how much he enjoys coaching
Every day I wake up and I can't wait to get in here and get to work. Look where we are. If you can't love this, getting up and coaching goalkeepers every day, then there is something wrong with me. Every day I wake up is a good one, because I get one.
On the future of the Timbers at goalkeeper
I like what we have. We have two very good young goalkeepers that are taking their first steps in the professional game and looking to develop and you need a veteran here. That is very important for me.
I had two very young goalkeepers in Toronto in Stefan Frei and Milos Kocic and I worked hard to bring John Conway into that mix. John had been around and done it all and was a really good pro around the training ground. That is really invaluable when you are developing young goalkeepers, so it is a good situation.
They are 22 years old, the two of them, and they are looking at a guy who is 35 and has been in a lot of training sessions, played a lot of games, and the commitment that he brings each day, and off the field how he prepares himself. It is always good when you have that example in front of you to show what it takes to have a long and consistent career.
That is what they are looking to do as young goalkeepers: they are looking to be consistent. They can all make saves, but can you be consistent and do the little things well. There is a lot that goes into that process. It is a good situation.
On Donovan's distribution
One time balls that have to be cleared and out, he hits it a mile. He is very confident. Actually, he is much better with his feet in close than I thought he was. Not until you get them here in a small game situation do you see that.
More quotes from Gleeson coming up.