After some serious roster turnover yesterday, the Timbers had all the same players in camp today; and all the same players out with injuries as well. The team was missing enough players that Cameron Knowles and the Timbers' new video analyst and player relations manager, Pablo Moreira, got in on the action.
Today's training session focused on closing down the player with the ball as Caleb Porter put the team through three distinct variations on the game of keep away: games of 4v2, cross-field 8v4, and half-field 8v4. In the first variant, three teams of two played with one of the teams staying in the middle and recording the number of times they would win the ball or knock it out of play, with the team able to win the ball the most times during their turn on defense being declared the winner. The second variant saw groups of four attempting to pass the ball six consecutive times between themselves before playing a switch across the field to another group of four in order to score a point. Finally, the team played a traditional game of four on eight, with the group of four that gave up the ball trying to win it back.
The Timbers then ran through their offense in a half-field game that saw an attacking team of eight players trying to score while a team of eight defenders attempted to clear the ball.
Finally, the team dragged a goal out to the half-field line and played a series of games of eight on eight. The teams:
- Orange (The Starters): Michael Harrington, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Ryan Miller; Will Johnson, Diego Valeri, Diego Chara; Danny Mwanga, and Ryan Johnson.
- Blue (The Reserves): Rodney Wallace, Hanyer Mosquera, Ryan Kawulok; Kalif Alhassan, Michael Nanchoff; Jose Adolfo Valencia, Deon McCauley, Sal Zizzo
- Yellow (The Young Guns): Dylan Tucker-Gangnes, Calum Angus, Cameron Knowles; Steven Evans, Mobi Fehr; Pablo Moreira, Chris Hegngi, Sebastian Rincon
Trialists and Guest Players
Timbers trialists Calum Angus, Michael Nanchoff, and Deon McCauley all continued their training with the team. Nanchoff has been with the team since the beginning of the preseason, while Angus and McCauley both joined the team yesterday after their return from Arizona.
Timbers draftees David Meves and Chris Hegngi also continued their time with the team.
Injuries and Absences
After spending most of yesterday's practice riding exercise bikes on the touch line, Futty Danso and David Horst were both absent from the pitch today. Horst is nursing a groin strain while Futty has been suffering from a sore hamstring.
Jack Jewsbury, Chris Taylor, and Jake Gleeson also missed practice again today as they continue rehabbing from knocks taken while in Tucson. Jewsbury has been out since the team's first preseason game with a pulled hamstring while Taylor and Gleeson both took part in the Timbers' 1-0 victory of the Seattle Sounders last Wednesday. Gleeson has reportedly been held out of practice with a sore back, while Chris Taylor has a knee sprain.
- Yesterday I got the impression that Deon McCauley did not really shoot with power, but when left along for just a moment today he ripped a shot form outside the eighteen that would have found the back of the net were it not for a fingertip save from David Meves. It was one of the nicer shots taken on the day.
- McCauley not only is willing to shoot, but he seems to find space to do so. I think he is growing on me.
- In the games of eight on eight at the end of practice, the orange team looked dominant early on, but the other teams stepped up their games by the end of training and were giving the starters a run for their money.
- Rodney Wallace lined up as a left fullback for the blue team and had great success getting forward, particularly with Kalif Alhassan picking him out with some well placed through balls. Wallace finished well when played in behind the defense and looked dangerous all game.
- Jose Adolfo Valencia lined up on the left wing for the blue team and put in a lot of defensive work while providing cover for Rodney Wallace's runs forward. For his efforts he received a high-five from Caleb Porter, something I had not previously noticed Porter doing.
- Although he lined up briefly on the wing during the team's attack vs defense drill, Kalif was back playing as a deep lying playmaker for the games of eight on eight, a position he seems to be settling into nicely. Although he did take on several players while dribbling the ball, Kalif dished off a nice pass each time that maintained possession for his team.
- Sebastian Rincon continued his impressive preseason today with some nice dribbling and one-two passes during the games of eight on eight. In one moment that stood out to me, he went at Diego Chara on the touch line, got around him, and dropped a ball back into the box.
- Will Johnson showed off his passing ability today, making cross-field switches and slotted through-balls with ease.