The Portland Timbers held a short, closed training session today at Jeld-Wen Field ahead of tomorrow's important match against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Timbers started practice late after going through one of the team's usual video and strategy sessions beforehand.
Practice was then closed up almost immediately after the players took to the pitch and before the team had even begun their warm up routine. This is a big departure from the usual schedule, some thing that often heralds a new look from the team (think of the first time that Jack Jewsbury played right back). Of course, it could also be some gamesmanship on the part of Caleb Porter, so speculation is difficult on this one.
For his part, Porter kept the focus on the Timbers and the work that they have put in this week as he addressed the press after practice.
We mostly worked on getting our pressing game back, not that it has been poor, but I think that it is something that if you are not continuing to reinforce and stress that hunger to win the ball back, especially high up the pitch. For me, we haven't been quite as aggressive in that part of our game. Then the other thing that we really worked on and stressed was the final third and just being a bit more composed and clinical.
Porter also mentioned what the Cascadia Cup means to the team.
It probably means a lot to use because it means a lot to the supporters. Last year that was a big thing to win that. This year we hope that that is not the only thing that we win. We don't want to, at the end of the year, be hanging out hat on just the Cascadia Cup. At the same time, it is something that we do want to take seriously.
Will Johnson, back from the All-Star Game, echoed that sentiment.
We are so focused on our playoff push and getting in the playoffs, the west is so tight, that every game against every team is important. The Cascadia Cup is also something that is important to us, our fans are very much behind us in these Cascadia Rivalry games, but we still only get three points if we beat Vancouver tomorrow.
Johnson also showed that his head was back with the Timbers with a quick quip as he came over to address the press. Geoffrey C. Arnold called him "Mr. All-Star" and Johnson immediately corrected him, saying, "Mr. Ex-All-Star."
Injuries and Absences
I did not notice anyone specific missing from practice, nor did I notice any new additions in the short amount of time that practice was open today.
Caleb Porter did confirm that Diego Chara would be out tomorrow, but could potentially play on Wednesday against Ral Salt Lake.
Porter also confirmed that Futty Danso is out for a while that to his foot injury, although he did not get into specifics.
Trialists and Guest Players
The same group of Timbers Academy players seemed to be training with the team again. Anthony Macchione, Jacob Kempf, and Jesse Garcia-Aguilar have all been working with the team this week and providing some extra bodies for practice.
David Meves also practiced with the team once again.