At training this morning the Portland Timbers started to ramp up their preparations for the weekend's Cascadia Cup clash against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The team held a closed practice at their Beaverton training facility today.
From the start, Today's practice showed a slight jump in intensity from the sessions earlier this week as the team plays at home for the first time in three weeks, against a team that is within one point of them on the table, and against a Cascadian rival this Saturday.
According to Jack Jewsbury, players around the league know what it means to play for the Cascadia Cup.
Even when guys play on different teams throughout this league they realize how big of a rivalry it is between these three teams. They see that when they are watching games on TV. When they come here they understand the importance.
Instead of doing the normal jogging and agility drills, the Timbers started off the day with games of 10v2 keep away that went on until practice was closed to the press. At the other end of the pitch, the keepers were faced with a setup meant to block their vision as they practice defending free kicks (in the background above), which seems like a good plan, given Vancouver's dead-ball proficiency.
Injuries and Absences
Will Johnson is still making his way back to Portland from the MLS All-Star Game and was not at practice today, but he is expected to be back for training tomorrow. Johnson played 45 minutes with the All-Stars yesterday in the team's 3-1 loss to A.S. Roma.
Diego Chara was again sidelined at practice today, but this time around he was not wearing the walking boot that he had featured since the end of last week. Geoffrey C. Arnold of the Oregonian was able to ask Chara about his status and Chara replied that he would not play this weekend but could be available for Wednesday's US Open Cup match in Salt Lake.
Bright Dike took part in the team warmup before breaking off with the academy players in attendance to work on his finishing, something that he did on Monday and Tuesday as well. Amos Magee oversaw Dike's workout as he continued to move toward full fitness and sharpened his movement and finishing.
David Horst and Brent Richards, after warming up with the team earlier in the week, worked out separately from the rest of the team from the start today, likely due to the increased intensity of the day's warmups.
Trialists and Guest Players
David Meves, who was named to the PDL All-Western Conference Team on Tuesday for his play with the Timbers U-23s, trained with the Timbers once again.
The Timbers also had the same three academy players in attendance that we saw on Tuesday, Jesse Garcia-Aguilar, Jacob Kempf, and Anthony Macchione.