The Timbers trained today at their Beaverton training facility in preparation for their match against the league leading San Jose Earthquakes tomorrow. The Timbers did their usual warm up routine and followed it up with some passing drills before closing practice to walk through their game plan for tomorrow.
The way that the Timbers split up during practice game me the impression that they would be making some big changes to their line up from Saturday's game against Seattle. Gavin Wilkinson, when asked about possible line up changes after practice, confirmed that they had been considered in order to get the team's first win on the road during a difficult stretch of three games in eight days, starting with the Sounders.
Line Up Speculation
I am expecting the Timbers to run out the usual 4-3-3 with a slightly more attacking bent. Kris Boyd should get the start up top in place of Bright Dike. The Timbers right side will get a make over with Danny Mwanga and Lovel Palmer getting time in the place of Sal Zizzo and Kosuke Kimura. Rodney Wallace, who barely edged out Jack Jewsbury in our Man of the Match voting against the Sounders, will step in to the midfield with Diego Chara out.
This line up (if it is correct) makes sense against the top team in the league. Gavin Wilkinson has been stressing recently that the rest of the season is essentially a prolonged trial for many of the players on the team as they seek to show what they can do for next season. Palmer, Wallace, and Boyd have all been speculated as players that might be on their way out and this could be their last chance to earn a place in next year's team.
More training notes and quotes from Gavin Wilkinson after the jump, plus vote on who you want starting up top for the Timbers.
Injuries and Absences
Jake Gleeson was back at practice today after getting an MRI of his injured hand. According to Wilkinson, Gleeson suffered a bone bruise and a partially torn ligament but could be back in time for the game against Real Salt Lake this weekend. Gleeson helped keeper coach Mike Toshak in working with Joe Bendik, serving in kicks for him to collect and shooting on goal, but Gleeson did not do any work with his hands.
Donovan Ricketts, Diego Chara, Steve Purdy, and Andrew Jean-Baptiste all missed practice today thanks to an assortment of injuries. Ricketts and Chara, both injured against Seattle, are expected to be out for the next two weeks.
On possible making changes to the line up against San Jose
You look at our road results and something has to change. We want to eliminate excuses. We've contemplated changing the line up and bringing in some fresh bodies. It is still in discussion and we will wait and see, but it has definitely been a big talking point.
On who will play in goal
Joe Bendik will be in goal. I thought he had done very well when he came in, especially after the start that he had. Pulling the ball out of the back of your net when it is your first touch of the ball then coming up and being able to make a couple of big saves I think is a testament to his character and his ability.
Joe has played first division games in Norway and he has already made his first debut for us. For us, he is expected to go and do a job. Donovan Ricketts is a very good goalkeeper in our opinion and Joe Bendik is in the squad for a reason and will be given the chance.
Additionally we have got a league pool goalkeeper joining us. I think that announcement will be going out. He will be joining us in San Jose.
On Joe Bendik having the chance to play against Seattle before playing San Jose
I think that when you are playing a rival at home in front of a packed house, for the keeper to do as well as he did with that environment around him I think is tremendous for him, his confidence, and for him going into thi game against San Jose.
On Jake Gleeson's hand
It is still there, still attached, so that is a positive.
He had an MRI and it just shows that he had a bone bruise and a partially torn ligament. There is a chance that he could be joining the squad for the game against Salt Lake.
On what needs to happen to win a game on the road this year
Concentrate for ninety minutes, win our individual battles, and for players to get their jobs done, and for us to make the right decisions as a coaching staff, first and foremost, and put players out there that want to do the job. Generally we've had that. We've just had some major lapses and it has cost us.
We have got to look to pressure San Jose. We have got to look to see if we can hold the ball against them. They are a very good team. We are going into a stadium where they've only lost one game this season. They are a team that is full of confidence, full of self belief, and it is important for us to go in there and work hard for ninety minutes.
On the pressure to get a road win
I think we've got to change our own fortune. We have failed on the road, we've struggled, and it is a chance for us to continue to evaluate players, continue to move forward as an organization, and see if we can start to solve one or two problems. Firstly, tactically, can we manage San Jose, then, individually, can we outperform them. It is a big challenge for us currently and only time will tell.