I visited the PTFC training facility today to take in the reserve match between the Timbers and Oregon State.
So you know now I didn't take any notes and to be honest I really didn't want to. I just wanted to watch; it has been bloody ages since I stood the sideline in a footy match and it brought back some great memories.
Maybe there are some folks out there who will understand that thought; (perhaps?) not.
Nevertheless, it was good to see the action up close and remind myself how difficult this game really is when it comes to thinking and moving and split second reactions while again thinking and moving as new events occur to change the flow of the game.
It felt like the 90 minutes flew by quickly and I'm sure the family and friends of the OSU players felt the same. A great chance for some young lads to get stuck in with professional players; wicked, absolutely wicked and not quickly forgotten I'd imagine.
So without taking any notes what sort of stuff did I see?
Well for starters it was good to see Eric Brunner return to the pitch after missing so many games recently. I'm not sure if he is 100% match fit yet but I wouldn't be surprised to see him travel with the squad next week. Eric played the first half.
Futty Danso also started the first 45 minutes and it didn't appear his knee was giving him any issues so we may have four healthy center-backs here in another week.
There were a number of the younger lads getting a run out today that included Freddie Braun, Brent Richards, Cam Vickers, Joe Bendik, Charles Renken, Ryan Kawulok, and Sebastian Rincon.
Of all the new lads, to include Brent Richards who slotted into the central midfield area, I would offer that Ryan Kawulok played what I would call a 'very comfortable game'. He was strong on the ball, particularly in the second half when he slotted in as a center-back, and his physical presence was clear.
Other players lining up in either the first half or second half included Mike Fucito, Bright Dike, Danny Mwanga, Lovel Palmer, Franck Songo'o, Kalif Alhassan, Eric Alexander, Rodney Wallace and Sal Zizzo.
All the veterans, IMHO, had solid games though there was an incident late on where Lovel Palmer was yellow carded for a high elbow. I couldn't see it though but the OSU head coach was not a happy camper.
The communication today was superb, I'm not near the pitch at Jeld-Wen so I can't hear the talking between players as the game is played. But today, with being only 3 feet from the pitch it was quite clear there was significant communication; Joe Bendik has a wicked set of lungs and constantly and consistently reminded his back-four where they were in relation to the opponent as well as their line and their tightness of that line.
The trends we have seen of late about system of play and style of play continue to manifest themselves on the pitch. In almost every case the ball was brought out from square one to a defender as opposed to a long ball. In addition, especially in the second half I continued to see the play of small ball (short passes) to sustain and maintain possession. As expected there was a difference between the younger lads running the midfield versus those that we see regularly during match day.
I'd like to offer up some thoughts about the OSU players but it remains unclear to me what the level of expectation is for those lads. I would welcome the opportunity to take in a game or two as time permits or even interview one or two college players to get a feel for what expectations they have versus what expectations they may have encountered while playing club football.
In closing, a good day for the Portland Timbers to get some more looks at the younger lads as well as loosen up in preparation for the road trip next week.
I will post my Timbers versus Toronto WTWF in a couple of days.
Alright guys, I don't believe I have to say this but, just in case, please do not submit anything racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise not appropriate for even the younger Timbers fans.