The Timbers held another closed practice session at their Beaverton training facility today in the run up to Saturday's Cascadia Cup match against Seattle. With several players returning to practice after yesterday's sparsely attended training, the Timbers are looking close to full strength to close out the season.
The Timbers started things off with their usual warm up drills and games of 6v6 keep away, before shutting practice down. After the proceedings were opened back up to the press, the Timbers forwards and more forward thinking midfielders (including Diego Chara) were practicing shooting at one end of the pitch while the rest of the team stretch or worked out seperately. After everyone else headed inside, Kosuke Kimura and Charles Renken stayed out on the the pitch as Renken tried to dribble past Kimura over and over again.
Injuries and Absences
After missing training yesterday, both Danny Mwanga and Rodney Wallace were back out on the pitch for training today. Mwanga suffered an ankle strain in reserve play against the Galaxy on Monday and Wallace was away with Costa Rica for World Cup qualifying.
More training notes, plus quotes from Kosuke Kimura and Bright Dike after the jump.
The other Timbers called up for international duty, Lovel Palmer and Steve Purdy, were both absent form practice today. Palmer is back in town and was at the practice facility, but did not work out with the team today. Purdy is traveling back to Portland today and should be available for tomorrow's practice (which is what I said yesterday, so we will see).
Also missing from practice were Steven Smith and Andrew Jean-Baptiste, both of whom are out with injuries. Smith, who is suspended from Saturday's game thanks to yellow card accumulation, is being given time off to heal a nagging ankle injury. Jean-Baptiste, although he is listed as probable on the MLS injury report, is working his way back from a hamstring sprain and could be unavailable for the near future.
Kris Boyd and Freddy Braun, both of whom warmed up with the team yesterday before heading inside to work out, were once again with the team at the beginning of practice. After the warm ups, Braun once again broke off from the team, spending today jogging on the artificial pitch, while the team practiced on real grass. Boyd, however, stayed with the team after warm ups were over and was still out there when training was closed.
The only non-roster player with the team now is Timbers U23 player Cam Vickers, who has been labeled a "practice player" and will likely continue playing with the team and providing another warm body on the pitch through the rest of the season. Vickers turns 24 in November and would be an overage player if the U23s brought him back next season.
On preparing to take on the Seattle Sounders this Saturday
There is always a huge excitement for this game. This is a really big game, a huge game.
Any time you have a chance to beat your rivals you are up for the game, ready for it. You can't wait for the game
On if everybody on the team understands what the Cascadia rivalry is like on the pitch
It is going to be a fight and a battle, as always. Even more so, especially, because it is our chance to clinch the Cascadia Cup. It is of huge importance for us to get something out of the season and to build momentum towards the end of the season too.
On beating the elite teams in the league like San Jose and Kansas City earlier in the year and what it would mean to beat Seattle
Whatever the case may be, we are trying to make a statement, trying to show that we are just as good as any team in MLS. I think we are capable, it is just playing consistently. I think at the end of the day we kind of owe it to our fans, with the season that we've had. We are just trying to come out on top.
On the physical side of the game in a rivalry game
It's not going to be pretty, but we don't really care if it looks pretty, we just want to get the result.
On how his nose is healing
It is much better, definitely. I wish I could take this mask off. It messes with your vision and every time you head the ball it moves and it is uncomfortable, but I guess I've got to do it until the doctor says, you don't have to wear it any more.
On if he will have to get surgery in the off season
The thing is, I broke my nose five times already playing soccer, so he was like, Kosuke, maybe you are going to break it again so why don't we just fix it whenever you finish playing soccer. That's a good idea, you know, so I will think about it. We'll see.
On preparing to take on the Seattle Sounders this Saturday
Definitely we didn't have a good game last week against Colorado. Particularly me, individually. I didn't have a good time there. It happens, you know. It is toward the end of the season and everyone is tired but we still need to prove that we can win and with the Cascadia Cup coming up, it is huge for us.
I think that we've been training well. Everybody had a good rest and Rodney and Lovel came back, they are some good players. It seems like Rodney is going to play left back. I think that we are preparing well.
All that we have to do for the game on Saturday is everybody just bring their games, play their roles, and that is all we need. Nothing else. Everybody stick with their roles and just do it. As long as we do that, I think that we have been playing well at home for the last four or five games and we have got to just keep bringing the same attitude to the game and just play our game.
On if it is hard not to get caught up in a big game like this one
It is going to be personal, more extra push, more extra juice for everybody from the fans, the organization, everybody in the team, but one thing you can not do is be nervous. A little nervous is good, but at the same time you have to clean you head. Keep your head calm and cool. Outside your body you are on fire, you move and you fly, but inside your mental status has to be more calm and chill. That is what everybody has to have in a game like this.
Once you get caught up in the moment you don't do that well and it kills the momentum and the confidence within a team. We need to make sure that everyone is on fire physically, but mentally we have to stay calm and play our game.
On the challenges in playing a player like Bright Dike
It takes a huge hustle to defend a guy like him. There are a bunch of guys in the league that have a big body and it is physically like you can't go head to head, you have to play in another way. Not physically but mentally. You have to get into his head. It is so tough.
I am a small guy and sometimes I play against him in small side areas like yesterday and I have to play smart. I have got to play the game reading it well to make sure he doesn't touch the ball.
It is going to be tough for Seattle for sure. They have a couple of big guys, but Dike is on just another level. He is almost 220 [pounds] and his center of gravity is so low and he can hold the ball. If he can stick with that role we are going to do well. He is going to give us a chance to get into the game. He will be the physical outlet to the flanks, the channels. He is going to go there, get the ball, hold it for us, and everybody can push up.
As long as he does that I think he is going to give us a great lift, a huge lift in the game and he'll put himself in a good position to score goals and he can run too. It is going to be tough for Seattle to defend against him. It is great to have him for the team, so I hope he does well again against Seattle and we can us him.