One day after flying back into town from their preseason stint in Tucson, Arizona, the Portland Timbers were back on the training pitch today, continuing their preseason preparations at the newly christened Providence Park. Today's practice was a short one, coming immediately on the heels of the team's return to Portland.
The day's workout started off with a variety of warm up and agility drills, run by one of the team's EXOS trainers. From there the Timbers went into a series of passing drills, growing gradually in intricacy as the session progressed then breaking into two groups for seven on three possession drills. Finally, the team finished off practice with a series of seven on seven matches played on a short field.
Trialists and Guest Players
Of the unsigned Timbers' rookies, only George Fochive and Aaron Long remain with the team. Victor Chavez and Nikita Kotlov were both released from camp, according to Caleb Porter, after not showing enough in Tucson. Taylor Peay and Schillo Tshuma were both with the team after being officially added to the roster
two three days ago.
Goalkeeper trialist Justin Luthy also remained with the team today. Porter addressed Luthy's situation after practice concluded, saying that the team would likely keep him on as a training keeper but would be unlikely to add him to the roster. The Timbers' other keeper trialist, Rafael Diaz, was no longer with the team.
Francis Dadzie, who was on trial with the team in Tucson, was no longer with the team today as well.
Injuries and Absences
Michael Harrington was not at practice today, having been given the day off by Porter after his long USMNT camp.
Diego Valeri and Steve Zakuani both went through the initial warm ups with the rest of the team, before breaking off to work with one of the team's trainers. Both worked out on the sidelines for a large portion of the practice before doing some jogging on the sidelines. Zakuani eventually went indoors, but Valeri stayed outside, jogging, through the entire practice. When the team's games of seven on seven had wrapped up, Valeri was still out on the pitch, practicing his free-kicks on head trainer Nik Wald.
Also on the sidelines today were Steven Evans, Bryan Gallego, and Rodney Wallace, all three of whom were working with the team's trainers in a limited capacity. It was encouraging to see Wallace, only three months removed from tearing his ACL in the Timbers' playoff match against Real Salt Lake, out on the pitch and working out already.
- Diego Chara, finding himself with plenty of room in the middle of the pitch, decided to take a shot today. His attempt was a bullet aimed at the upper corner of the net, only to have it tipped over the bar by an acrobatic save from Andrew Weber.
- The Timbers' Argentine contingent had plenty of opportunities to show off their flair today, but no moment embodied the experience better than Gaston Fernandez's back-heel pass to Maximiliano Urruti, who then back-heel passed the ball to Will Johnson, running down the flank.
- After a perceived reluctance to shoot in Tucson, La Gata was not afraid to rip off some shots today. His best came off the rebound of a stopped Urruti shot; with the ball bouncing in the, Fernandez struck the ball on the volley, dipping the ball up and back down over Weber and into the back of the net.
- Anyone who has watched a Timbers game has seen it, but Darlington Nagbe's ability when surrounded by defenders to simply accelerate past them is uncanny.
- At one point Nagbe, after burning several defenders, was played into the six yard box with a 1-2 pass. Nagbe took the shot with his first touch, putting the ball just wide of the net as he tried to find his way around an onrushing Weber. What made the shot notable was that he took it with his left foot.
- Donovan Ricketts made several nice reaction saves on the day, amply demonstrating that he would not be beaten at the near post and to attempt to do so is folly.
- Ricketts did attempt to dribble around Frederic Piquionne today, an effort that almost ended in disaster. Piquionne was able to stick a foot out and poke the ball away, but Ricketts was able to recover it before it dribbled its way over the line.
- Kalif Alhassan's passing and play overall was somewhat lacking on the day. With players like Schillo Tshuma putting in some impressive practice sessions recently, Kalif will need to get things back on track quickly if he wants to retain his position as the first man off the bench.