The Timbers held a short, early practice today before flying to Colorado this afternoon ahead of tomorrow's game against the Rapids. Practice was closed after a brief warm up as the travel squad broke off to prepare for the game while the rest of the team played a game of 5v5.
Trialist Pablo Di Fiori and practice player Cam Vickers were the only non-roster players with the team today.
Jose Adolfo Valencia continued practicing with the team as he nears recovery from the knee surgery he underwent at the beginning of this year's preseason. At the end of practice, Valencia was participating in the game of 5v5 that was going on, providing an outlet pass for whichever team was on the attack.
Steve Purdy, Lovel Palmer, and Rodney Wallace were all away from practice with their respective national teams, leaving a hole on the Timbers bench. With all three on national team duty until the 12th, Gavin Wilkinson confirmed after practice that Ryan Kawulok, a Colorado native, would be on the team's travel roster to provide cover for the Timbers' outside backs.
Quotes from Gavin Wilkinson and Kosuke Kimura after the jump.
On what tactical adjustments he is expecting to see from the Rapids
I think we have to be aware that there could be. When we went there they played in a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield and they were very successful in isolating our wide defenders. It is something that we have to be aware of and we we have to be able to cope with that. You are setting up several different contingencies.
We hope to be able to play our game, but going into Colorado it is a place that we have struggled in the past. It is important that we are aware and prepare for everything possible. We think they may make a few positional changes and possibly a tactical one with their system.
On the danger of over analyzing your opponent, particularly when playing them twice in a row
You don't have another game to feed off. Playing two games so quick we are able to have a closer look at their players, confirm what we thought or change our theory on what they are doing and what their strengths are. A lot of what they were doing well against us we were aware of. We have got to do a better job of preventing certain players of theirs getting on the ball in dangerous areas.
The unknown is how they are going to prepare for us. It is an unknown going into any game, but when you do have quick games it provides a greated doubt in the coaches' minds and you are thinking, what are they going to do here? We have got to be aware the first fifteen minutes to try and play the way we want and see if we can control the rhythm of the game, which means they will have to make adjustments based on us.
On if there is any possibility that the team has gotten overconfident after winning two in a row
There shouldn't be. You've just got to look at the previous games, so we can remind them of that very quickly. For us, we said we lacked confidence, we lacked maturity. The confidence on the road, it is not there yet, so it shouldn't be an issue, and if it is it gives us greater insight moving forward.
Every single game that we play we are finding out more and more about the players. There have been positives, but we are yet to succeed on the road so this is a big question now.
On how curious he is to see the team perform on the road
Very curious. We said it again straight after the game. The first thing was, it will be interesting to go in to Colorado and play there. We are comfortable in the way that we want to play, we a re comfortable in our system, players are playing well, now what excuses could we find to fail? Our hope is that we go on the road and succeed and tick another box really is what we are looking at.
It is very interesting to find out more about the players, their mentality and their character. You've seen they have the ability. Now it is, do we have the right mentality? We've ticked a lot of boxes in how we travel, what we do when we travel, the meals that we eat as a team, the quality of what we do in the preparation leading up to a road game. You are always going to question that, but the last part is do we have strong characters and mentally tough individuals to be successful.
On if the team does have enough mentally tough individuals to be successful
I think we need to get it out of them. I think we do have them, but only time will tell if we do indeed. Right now the group has done well. They've done everything that we've asked of them and I've got to keep giving them the benefit of a doubt that they will keep responding in a positive way.
On Donovan Ricketts' arm
It is good. I don't know how he throws the ball that far and if I was to even try to I would throw something out of joint. He's fine. We've taken it light with him in training but he will be available to start and he is an important piece for us.
On the health of the team
A lot of concerns but nothing that will keep anybody out of the line up.
On the loss of Rodney Wallace, Steve Purdy, and Lovel Palmer to international duty
One of the things that I said when I came on board was that we were going to find out more about some of the young players. We gave [Brent Richards] a little bit of a run and we were happy with some things but we realized that he is still a developing player, so we are going to give players a little test and then bring them back.
We are going to give Ryan Kawulok a chance to travel with the group. He is from Colorado, he has played at altitude before. There's no surprises for him in going into that environment, so we are able to take Ryan Kawulok. I think he has deserved the opportunity. We are going to take him and see what he can give us, but he can slot in at right back or left back, Kos can play left back, Jack Jewsbury can swap to right back, so we have cover and we have options.
On playing in Colorado for the first time since being traded to the Timbers
It has been about a month and a half, almost two months, since I left there and I haven't had a chance to go back there since I haven't had much time and we have been playing so many games. Definitely, I am looking forward to going back there today and to play a game tomorrow.
There will be a bunch of people there. I have people coming to watch the game and supporting me and all that. It will be nice. It is still kind of tough for me because of all the fans that I built in the last six years and I hope that they welcome me and I hope I have the time to go around the stadium after the game and say thanks to everyone. It will be good for me to go back there. It's exciting.
On playing the Rapids back to back
It is a strange thing because it doesn't really happen that often. Obviously we changed the rules in the conference, we play three times now, so it will happen more. That will be the tendency from now on, it is going to happen. We know exactly what they do. We just played a few days ago so they won't change that much. The strategy comes form the individual I think.
I heard Omar Cummings is missing for international duty. I think that is huge for us because when he plays at home he is a nightmare. He goes into space because the Rapids' field is so huge. He utilizes the space and that gives the team momentum. If he is not playing we are really lucky because they don't have much pace to beat us, I don't think.
All we have got to do is go out there and stick with our plan. We have got to go with the same mentality and we just do our jobs.
On playing on a larger field like the Rapids have
We have been working on our defending shape and all that. When I was in Colorado for the last six years I would usually go up and overlap seven to ten times a game, but right now we need to stay compact as a unit, especially the back four, because I think that gives us a chance at success.
I think that we have been successful the past five or six games by sticking together. It is a big field. I usually utilized the space to go run to but tomorrow it is going to be a totally different game and a totally different plan. Sit back, try to find the opportunity, and try to isolate Sal Zizzo and [Franck Songo'o] on the left and right wings. If we do that well, I think can have a chance.
[The field] is going to be huge and it is going to be tough for us, for sure, because our field is not even close to being that size, so the guys have to realize that you have to pace yourself and make sure that doesn't get in your head. Just the mentality that this game is the same as everything else. No matter what the altitude does, no matter how big the field is, just have the same mentality and just do your job.