The Portland Timbers held their second open practice of the week today at the team's Beaverton training facility. Training was initially scheduled to be closed, but Caleb Porter let the press stay, only restricting recording during the team's set-piece practice at the end of the session.
Training started off with a somewhat more competitive version of the usual warmups. The most memorable drill, and the most fun-looking, saw to groups of players face off against each other with a flag in the middle. Players from one line would have to sprint around the flag and get back to their line before being caught by a player from the other line who would have to hop over an obstacle en route.
After wrapping up the races, the Timbers broke up into groups of defenders and forwards to work separately. The defenders stayed at on end of the pitch and worked on their clearing headers and positioning as a group while the forwards and midfielders dribbled hard at goal and shot one on one with the keepers.
From there Porter divided the players into four teams of five playing a pair of short field games using small goals. After a few minutes the two games were combined into a large 10 on 10 short field game. Finally, the field was lengthened to include almost the full pitch. In all three games holding possession before breaking down the pitch was emphasized.
To wrap up practice the team ran through their corner kicks, free kicks, and penalties.
- It was cold as the dickens out on the practice field today thanks to low temperatures and a brisk breeze, so Jack Jewsbury was the only Timbers player in shorts and a short-sleeved warm-up top. When asked about the cold Jewsbury responded, "To be honest it is beautiful today. There is no reason for any long sleeves or beanies or gloves. I can't believe that guys had them on."
- Sal Zizzo filled in with the defenders today, providing cover at right back while Alvas Powell is on international duty.
- David Horst and Steven Evans stayed out after practice to put in some fitness work with Sean McAuley. McAuley would roll a ball toward goal and they would compete to see who could get to it first and see who could put it away. Horst is obviously still regaining his fitness after recovering from his most recent injury, a knee strain, so after a certain point the match up reminded me of a terrier bothering a saint bernard at a dog park.
- Most of the free kicks in practice were taken by Will Johnson and Sal Zizzo. Johnson has a definite power advantage, I would have to give Zizzo the edge in accuracy. When the team went to direct free kicks from outside the box, both were able to score on Milos Kocic.
- When the team lined up for penalty kicks, Evans went for a panenka, but Kocic was ready for him and, instead of just catching the ball, he elected to head it away.
Injuries and Absences
Diego Valeri was back on the pitch for practice today for the first time this week. Valeri had not practiced with the team since the first leg a week and a half ago.
Pa Modou Kah, who has been dealing with a rib issue, was out on the pitch today and fully participated in practice. Last week Kah did not train with the rest of the team, and yesterday he did not participate in the full-contact portions of practice.
Alvas Powell was not with the team today as he travels back to Portland from Jamaica. Powell put in a pair of 90' shifts in Jamaica's 1-0 and 2-0 losses to Trinadad and Tobago over the weekend, playing last night's match at centerback.
Brent Richards ran sprints today along the sidelines under the supervision of John Cone. Richards has been out of practice since his knee surgery back in February.