Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
The Portland Timbers held an open practice today as the team spent this morning focusing on stretching the field and switching the point of attack.
The Timbers opened warm-ups with the usual work out followed by passing drills before moving into one of the largest games of keep away that the team has played. With two teams of nine in the center, Ryan Johnson on one long side of the area, and Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Mikael Silvestre on the other, the goal was to effectively use the width of the field while still retaining possession of the ball.
This large scale game of keep away was followed up by a short field game of six on six with an additional six players for each team lining the outside of the area and available for one touch passes. Of course, there was another twist to this drill, with the six players in the area switching with the six players on the line whenever a whistle was blown, which made for a very "Mad Hatter"-esque scene every few minutes as players scrambled to get into or out of the game.
Trialists and Guest Players
Kyle Altman continued his time on trial with the Timbers today. In the press scrum after training concluded, Caleb Porter addressed his status:
"We want to take a good look at him and also see just how our roster shakes out before making a final decision. He's done well enough to stay with us. He hasn't necessarily shown us enough to sign him yet, but we are liking what we see out of him."
Supplemental Draft pick David Meves also continued to train with the team today.
Injuries and Absences
Sal Zizzo missed practice today after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Zizzo suffered the injury in practice yesterday and is expected to return in four weeks.
David Horst continued to miss practice as he works his way back from a niggling groin strain. According to Porter, Horst has been doing pool workouts and will be getting on a bike tomorrow. Porter also reiterated that Horst's time-frame for returning to action is "a couple weeks".
There is still no confirmed date for Frederic Piquionne to arrive in Portland, although Porter confirmed that Piquionne has a meeting set up at the embassy to have his visa approved later this week.
Donovan Ricketts again did not practice with the team, instead working out indoors as part of his training regimen.
Brent Richards was on the sidelines today doing some light exercise and stretching under the supervision of trainer Nik Wald as he rehabs his knee.
- Unlike most of the players out there, Silvestre just steps out onto the practice field and his touch and passing are dead on. The guy is like clockwork. Of course, that only serves to make the early mistakes against New York even more mystifying.
- During the big game of keep away, Rodney Wallace was making some very nice runs which nicely complimented the very nice passes of Michael Nanchoff.
- The starters were, unsurprisingly, grouped together during the big game of keep away and after some early poor touches they were very difficult to get the ball away from. They also made excellent use of the full width of the field, pulling players out of position with short passes before playing a long switch to catch the reserves off guard.
- During the short field game that the Timbers played Rodney Wallace and Ben Zemanski were the two players added to the group of starters to make up their twelve players, which makes Jack Jewsbury's road back to first team minutes look long indeed. The reserves got Amos Magee to round out their number.
- Kalif Alhassan was on fire with his patented far-post curling chip today. He successfully put one in over Meves and followed it up with another over Gleeson. He showed off the versatility of the move by putting in another that looked to be going just wide before Ryan Johnson thumped it home. The cross vs. shot controversy continues.
- Oh course, it would not be Kalif without something totally ludicrous happening to balance out his unbelievable moments of skill. Today the moment that stuck out to me was an attempted half-volley by Kalif from about six yards out that actually ended up going backwards, away from the goal. Kalif looked as puzzled by the ball's trajectory as I was.
- Finally, I might have to bring a radar gun to practice, because I think Sebastian Rincon's shot is getting harder. He showed off his ability to turn quickly and just smash the ball several times in the team's short field game, a quality that is surprisingly uncommon.