The Portland Timbers held a closed training session today that featured the debut of the team's newest signing, Frederic Piquionne, and the start of the on field preparations for this weekend's Cascadia Cup clash with the Seattle Sounders.
The Timbers practiced at their Beaverton training facility today, getting a timely start and running an assortment of warm-up drills before closing practice early on. The facility's grass field looked set up for some games of ten on ten as the players finished their routine and the press were ushered inside.
Piquionne made his debut today in practice but looked like he was still suffering from some jet-lag and was a little slow off the mark during the team's warm-up.
Despite the debut of the team's most recent addition, the post-practice talk was all about Saturday's game in Seattle. Michael Harrington talked about the run-up to this weekend's game, "as far as preparation goes you have got to prepare the same way, but once you get out there on the field it is a bit of a different feeling and you just have to control your emotions and try to play good soccer."
Will Johnson had a long view of the rivalry as he recalled his view of the Cascadia Cup rivalry from the outside, "When I was at [Real Salt Lake] I was proud to be part of a league that could draw 65,000 people. I think that at some level we're all in this together. I think MLS is at some level a family of its own, competing against the rest of the leagues in the world for notoriety."
Of course, Johnson's wide perspective did not mean he is any less excited for the match. A part of several contentious games against Seattle during his time with Real Salt Lake, Johnson was well prepared to take on the Sounders this weekend.
"I know most of the team there does not particularly like me, so I think that plays into my hand. I am excited to be a part of this team now and this rivalry goes to the next level for me. I think it brings out the best in my game and it should bring out the best in our team."
Trialists and Guest Players
Kyle Altman continued his time on trial with the Timbers today.
David Meves and Anders Vest Hansen were both at practice today. Vest Hansen is training with the Timbers while on his spring break from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Injuries and Absences
David Horst was once again not at practice thanks to the groin strain he suffered during the preseason. Although Horst has been working his way back to fitness and could return to practice later this week, he was still limited to some post-practice jogging and exercises under the direction of head trainer Nik Wald.
There was not much to see after practice was reopened today. A few of the youngsters were still working with Cameron Knowles in a drill that saw different sets of defenders marking Sebastian Rincon and Jose Adolfo Valencia. Knowles emphasized off the ball movement for the Timbers' two young forwards, particularly Valencia.