The Portland Timbers held a closed practice today ahead of their Wednesday night match up against Portmore United. Training was held at Providence Park and saw the Timbers run through their usual warm ups before the press was removed from the pitch.
With the second team set to play against Portmore tomorrow the discussion after practice was focused on the Timbers' depth. According to Caleb Porter, the Timbers have a number of players that can step in to the starting eleven without the team missing a beat.
I think we are still figuring out where that hierarchy rests. I can tell you this: we have at least fifteen guys that we could plug in and the level is completely the same... but you can only name an eleven, so we need to figure out, what is our top eleven?
According to Porter, the second team will be aiming to take the pitch for 90' on Wednesday. During that time, they will be trying to earn their way into the 18-man game-day roster on March 8th.
I am going to be evaluating guys tomorrow to help give me a perspective on that and then again on Saturday to get another perspective, because obviously that is really the last chance I have to gain some wisdom to make a decision for March 8th.
Talking about what he is looking for from his players in tomorrow evening's match, Porter confirmed that he was looking for the best eleven, rather than just the players who fit together. He also took a moment to explain why.
We've selected them all to fit the system we play, a system formation-wise and the philosophy in our approach to the game and how we attack and defend. They are interconnected. A system isn't just the formation. A system is how you approach the game from a play standpoint and also how you approach the game from a formation standpoint.
Injuries and Absences
Will Johnson was back in training today for at least the warm-up portion of the proceedings. Johnson had missed Sunday's match against the San Jose Earthquakes and practice the following day with a fever of 101 degrees. According to Porter, the team will work on preparing Johnson for Saturday's match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Steven Evans made his debut in the team warm ups today after spending the first month of the Timbers' preseason working on the sidelines with a trainer, working on his recovery from an off-season back surgery. Given the tricky nature of his injury it could be a while before he is fully fit.
Steve Zakuani and Diego Valeri were both in the team warm ups again today. Valeri has been taking part in full practices recently, while Zakuani participated in his first possession drills of the season yesterday.
Trialists and Guest Players
The Timbers' extra goalkeeper from yesterday was no longer with the team today as Donovan Ricketts was back in training and gave the team their full compliment.
George Fochive and Aaron Long were both signed by the Timbers today, so that leaves Justin Luthy as the lone non-roster player with the team currently.