The Portland Timbers held a light regen session at their Beaverton training facility today after the weekend's pair of victories over the San Jose Earthquakes. Practice started off with some jogging and easy passing drills before moving into games of keep away and finally finishing up with a spirited game of soccer tennis.
Despite the relaxed air around practice today, the Timbers rematch against the Earthquakes this weekend already has the attention of the team. Caleb Porter, however, was focused on the improvement of the Timbers overall.
We are pleased that we have, the last couple of games, performed well and gotten six points, but we have got to keep getting better. It's a long season. It doesn't make it any harder or any easier going into this next game. We still have to be hungry. They are going to be motivated, certainly. It is going to be a difficult game.
To make that improvement the Timbers will need to continue to play the tight defensive game that they have exhibited in their last two matches at home, according to Porter.
We've played two very balanced games where we've played our style, had the ball, we've created chances, we've scored goals, and we've defended well. We need to continue that... If you look at the individual errors being limited and corrected, then you look at overall just our back four and two holding mids being a little more balanced, I think that is the key... We've pressed very well as a unit and that starts with our front guys and their energy and their pressure. Their work rate has really helped us to defend well.
Injuries and Absences
After hard fought games on Sunday and Monday, it seemed likely that the Timbers would be missing a player or two to newly acquired knocks. However, today's practice saw all twenty-seven currently healthy Timbers take the field for warmups, plus ever-present guest player David Meves.
Diego Valeri was confirmed by Caleb Porter to have cleared the league's concussion protocol. Merritt Paulson gave some detail on the timing of Valeri's clearance via twitter, saying that Valeri was cleared before the weekend, but was held out of the game as a precautionary measure. Today Valeri warmed up with the team before breaking off to do some work with John Cone as he gets back into the swing of things after a week of limited practice.
Sal Zizzo also warmed up with the team before going to work with John Cone. According to Porter, Zizzo will be integrated into this week's training.
Andrew Jean-Baptiste took part in the early warmups before being sent to do some jogging around the pitch. AJB missed Sunday's game thanks to an adductor strain he suffered last week. Porter said the team does not yet know if AJB will be fit to play this weekend.
- At one point during the team's games of keep away, Porter instituted a rule that players needed to spin around after passing the ball. This lead to some interesting passing technique as players incorporated the spin into the pass itself.
- Later, Porter required that players touch the ground after they pass the ball. Thanks to some creative misinterpretation on his part, this led to Will Johnson performing much of the drill in a football lineman's three point stance. It somewhat limited his passing effectiveness.