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With two of their three goalkeepers out injured for the last two weeks, the Timbers have found themselves with only one healthy goalkeeper. After today's practice, keeper coach Mike Toshack talked about the progress they are making, what it takes to step in and start, and the Timbers academy keepers who have been in camp recently.
The Timbers held a closed practice today at their Beaverton training facility. Early on in practice the team was going through their usual routine of warm up running and agility drills followed by games of keep away. However, after practice was closed the team was already leaving the pitch and headed to the locker rooms making it hard to get any idea as to what went on at practice today.
Injuries and Absences
Missing form today's practice were Kalif Alhassan and Kris Boyd. Boyd, Gavin Wilkinson confirmed yesterday, is out for the season. Alhassan, who practiced earlier in the week, was held out of practice to receive treatment for a knee injury.
Returning to practice today was Lovel Palmer, his first time on the pitch since injuring his knee against San Jose last Wednesday. Palmer joined the team for the warm ups and games of keep away before heading inside with the trainers as practice was closed to the press.
Diego Chara, who is questionable for this weekend's match against DC United, was back on the pitch for today's entire practice. Chara has been warming up with the team, but this is the first time he has stayed with the team for a whole training session.
Jake Gleeson and Donovan Ricketts both participated in keeper drills today alongside Joe Bendik. According to keeper coach Mike Toshack, Ricketts is still a week away from being game ready and Gleeson is able to play.
USA U-20 pool player Mobi Fehr and Timbers U-23 player Cam Vickers were both at practice today.
On Donovan Ricketts and Jake Gleeson
"Donovan is probably a week away or so. Jake is fine. It is a pain issue, but he is okay. He is ready to go. He will take his place on the bench on Saturday, which is good."
On Joe Bendik starting
"Joe is ready to continue. Joe has done a really good job. He has been our number two goalkeeper since May. He has won that spot and he has been there. I see all over the newspapers that he is our number three, but he has been on the bench since May. He has worked hard and he has earned that spot, and he has gone in for us and he has performed well for his first games in MLS. I am delighted for him."
On what positives he saw from Joe Bendik against San Jose and Salt Lake
"The fact that he is always the same. His personality and his demeanor is always the same whether it is at training here or his first MLS start, which is good, which allows him to play to the best of his ability. The nerves don't get to him. At this level, what you have in [your head] is just as important as everything else.
He's calm, he has a good presence, he made some good saves for us. In the San Jose game he came early for a punch of a cross and there was a big collision. It was important that he came and that set a tone for the game as well.
I felt bad for him in the game against Salt Lake. The wall opened up on him on the first free kick and it went right through the wall and the other one was a well hit shot, but a lot of young goal keepers fade after that. He didn't fade. He came up with two huge saves in the second half to give us a chance to get something from the game. That is a really encouraging sign for him."
On the importance of fearlessness as a goalkeeper
"It is important to be able to react and react quickly and to go make a play, not to be worried about the challenges that are around you. That is why as goalkeepers you want to be strong, you want to be powerful athletes. They do a lot of work in the gym. The young kid, Mitch North, came in with a hard punch early on in the game, which is good.
With Donovan, he got hit early on in the game from behind and then it was a similar but a harder collision in the second half, which did his shoulder, but it was excellent goalkeeping on his part. We joked about it, the fact that because we worked a little bit on his positioning, how close to be to the near post, and he said, jeez, if I had had less better positioning, I wouldn't have gotten hurt. He's right. Because his positioning was so good, he reacted and was able to make a play, but he got hurt on it. He has got a great attitude."
On the Timbers academy keepers who have joined the first team practice recently
"[There's Mitch North] and another kid Joe Wheelwright who came out yesterday, the U-16 goalkeeper as well, and we have got two academy goalkeepers that are promising and that we are excited about having around the first team and training with us and the North kid had a chance to come in a perform. That's what it is all about. That says a lot about our academy."
On how getting time with the first team can help academy players develop
"[Mitch North] is a good example. He played in front of eight thousand people against Seattle's reserve team and did really well. We got a win. Then just last week he goes to play against Seattle's U-18 team when there is two hundred people there, all parents, so for him the difference between when he played in Los Angeles against Chivas to then playing in the Seattle reserve game with us to playing with the U-18s was miles.
He was much more calm, from the reports I got from the match, very calm, very assured. Having gone from that level down to the U-18 level he had been at a higher place and his development, just from that little amount of time, has kicked on, which is great."