Today's practice at the team's Beaverton training facility saw the Timbers' starters return to action for the first time since their loss to Colorado on Wednesday. The starters practiced separately from the rest of the team, undergoing a lighter workout as they regen from last week's game before splitting into two teams and playing a game of 6v6 with Gavin Wilkinson and Jose Adolfo Valencia rounding out the sides.
Valencia, who is now in his third week of practicing with the team after spending most of the season rehabilitating his knee, continued to get more involved in practice with his inclusion in the first team's low impact game of 6v6. After practice, general manager Gavin Wilkinson stated that the team was cautiously optimistic that Trencito could see twenty minutes with the reserves next Sunday. In practice today Valencia showed off some slick dribbling and shooting skills that I am looking forward to seeing in an actual game situation.
The Timbers had two players out on the sidelines of practice today. Freddy Braun is suffering from an abdominal strain while Andrew Jean-Baptiste is sidelined with a hamstring strain that he suffered last week. Both were on the sidelines for most of practice, watching the team work.
Trialist Pablo Di Fiori and practice player Cam vickers are both still practicing with the team.
More practice notes, plus quotes from Gavin Wilkinson and Steven Smith after the jump.
Steven Smith, who played as a forward when he was young, was the leading scorer in practice today (or close to it, my count was not that precise), getting in behind the defense on a series of one-two passes over and over again. Smith will be suspended against Seattle on Saturday due to yellow card accumulation.
Most of the players headed inside immediately after practice except for Valencia and Kosuke Kimura. Under the direction of Sean McAuley, Valencia crossed balls into the penalty box for Kimura to clear while McAuley gave Kimura feedback on his positioning.
On the match against Colorado
I've watched the game several times actually and the score line is what it is. How we started the game was really poor. We put a lot of focus on the first fifteen minutes and we got broken down in several key areas and it changed the momentum of the game very quickly. Rhythm was something that we needed to get in the first fifteen minutes; to get ourselves on the ball.
It is hard to claw yourself out of a hole but we didn't start the game well. There were moments that we looked better than what we have done in previously. I do not think, maybe I will be criticized for it, that it was a three-zero game. Bright Dike, at the start of the second half, had a good opportunity. Diego Chara was one on one. There were moments that we created. I think if you look at the numbers it was twelve shots to nine.
When you go on the road you need to punish teams. You can't give away easy opportunities. On both of their first two goals I think we fell asleep, to be honest. We lost runners.
It is a time for reflection and we need to sort out the problems and move forward to Seattle.
On the Timbers lack of success in Colorado
We have our thoughts and our ideas and a lot of it is how you start the game. If you don't start the game well suddenly it is a habit again, looking back to the previous two times against Colorado, here we go again. There is a reason that we put a lot of emphasis on the start of the game. It is not how we wanted it to go and to climb out of that problem that we created for ourselves is very difficult. I think that when you allow an early goal in a place you haven't had much success it is deja vu.
On what the team will do with Steven Smith suspended at left back
You've got Ian Hogg, you've got Rodney Wallace, you've got Steve Purdy, you've got some options. Rodney Wallace is getting some good experience away with the national team, so is Steve Purdy with the national team. You've got Lovel Palmer who had a good game against the US, who can slot in as left back. We've got options. It is just going to be a change.
[We are] keeping it to ourself for the moment. There is no point letting everybody in the world know. We need to see how people come back, whether they are fit and healthy, and what we can move forward with.
On the process of getting the team to win on the road
It is not a problem that we've just created. It is one that has been a trent and you need to put a stop to those. We'll analyze it, we will break it down, we will do everything possible. Generally you need a preseason, you need to get some things out of the way. We are still trying things on the road which are a little bit different., how many times we've gone in and tried to pressure. I think we are trying to change the mentality as well.
Can we go into the Colorados of this world? Can we play a little bit higher instead of sitting back and waiting for one or two chances. we are trying to impose ourselves on games as well ad we are going to have some success, we are going to have some failures, and that was a failure.
On Jose Adolfo Valencia
We are quietly optimistic that we may be able to get twenty minutes out of him against Seattle in a weeks time, which would be a good reward for Valencia and his hard work. He is coming along nicely.
On the match against Colorado
I think we've got to learn to be tougher on the road. Those were tough games in a tough environment to go into. I think that after the first time we went there we adapted a little bit and it was the same result but I don't think it was the same performance. I think that we played a little better but it is a loss at the end of the day. We need to move forward.
On his improved performance in Colorado
The first time I was in Colorado I don't think that I was, I am not going to make excuses, but I was sick. I thought at that point it was down to the altitude and stuff but I knew what to expect going to Colorado this time. I knew it was going to be tough. You just have to get your head around it, adapt to the circumstances, and try to play the game the best you can.
On the his yellow card
That was stupidity from me. I didn't know the exact rules on that, but Gavin mentioned it to me the day before. It was just frustration but I shouldn't have done it. I'm pretty gutted to be missing such a big game.
On the Cascadia Cup
Obviously it means a lot to the fan-base, means a lot to us as players. We want to win. Every competition I'm in I want to win. If we beat them then we've won it and it is a big thing for us because we've got something to play for.
Where there's games and there's rivalries they always take care of themselves. There is a lot of passion in the stands and those are the games that you want to play in. Every player wants to play in big games and big atmospheres and the Cascadia Cup have got that, so you are always aware and you give 100%.
On if he still looks forward to experiencing playing in a new place like Seattle
When you go somewhere and it is a great atmosphere and it is hostile and there is a rivalry there it is something that you enjoy. Everybody wants to play in big games and it doesn't get any bigger than playing against Seattle.
On the goals he was scoring in practice today
I started out as a striker and eventually moved my way back to fullback but this is practice. I enjoyed it. Good mini games and you just try to be as involved as you can and, if it is possible, score a few goals.