The Portland Timbers put in an energetic practice session today at Providence Park, working hard in their first regular practice after the team's 1-1 draw with Philadelphia on Saturday. Having put in a completely closed regen session yesterday, the Timbers were back to full speed for today's practice.
Training started off with a long set of agility drills before settling into a series of passing exercises that also emphasized closing down and containing a player with the ball at their feet. Continuing with the day's early emphasis on putting pressure on the player with the ball, the team then switched over to a series of possession games, starting off with some one on three keep away before bringing the whole team together for a three team game that saw teams of seven attempting to keep the ball from three defenders before sending a cross to another team of seven.
From there George Fochive, Taylor Peay, and Schillo Tshuma broke off to do some additional conditioning work with a trainer while the rest of the team played a seven on seven plus three possession drill on a larger portion of the field. Diego Chara, Will Johnson, and Diego Valeri were always on the possession side of the drill, the "plus three", for the duration.
Finally, the Timbers closed out practice with a finishing drill that saw the Timbers moving the ball out of the midfield and to the flanks of the pitch before sending it inside for the finish.
After the day's session had wrapped up, Caleb Porter spoke to the press about what he saw in reviewing Saturday's match against the Union.
I thought that we went through a period of play that was poor and we were in a funk because we gave the ball away. I thought the second half was better and, to be honest with you, the second half, in watching the game a couple more times, we had a lot of chances that were right there: a few blocked shots, crosses that just missed; those things don't show up on the highlight tape, I don't even know if they show up on the stats sheet, but there were five or six blocked shots that could have been very good chances that were blocked at the last minute inside the box. There were a lot more chances than I remembered even during the game when I went back through and watched the tape, which for me is a positive because it means that we are close. We are on the cusp of breaking out with a multiple goal effort.
In order to turn those blocked shots into shots on goal, however, the Timbers will need find just a bit more space for themselves. Porter gave his take on how they can do that.
I think you have to pull the trigger a little quicker. If you take an extra touch then a lot of times they get set and it gives them a chance to block the shot. There were a few in particular where we have got to have a one time finish or we have got to create a little daylight by taking a touch away from a defender and then getting around them. I think a little quicker release, at times looking to hit one-time chances, or at times creating a little separation is the key there.
According to Porter, it is more than just a better touch on the ball; the team will need really start to click and get in mindset that will allow the goals to come.
It's just being a little bit more opportunistic in those moments. A lot of times the chance has to happen quick. If you let a defender get back behind the ball or get set, if you are hesitant to pull the trigger then you give them the opportunity to block the shot or get their back line set up. I think it is just playing a little quicker, a little more urgent at times, and looking to get a half-chance instead of a complete chance where you are taking a touch and sizing it up. Goals are scored quick; quick actions, quick finishes, decisive moments. I think we can be a little bit more decisive.
Injuries and Absences
Pa Modou Kah and Kalif Alhassan watched training from the sidelines today after each picked up a knock in Saturday's match against the Union. After practice, Porter said that he would be playing his cards close to his chest and that both players would be evaluated over the course of the week. Kah, who came out of the match in the 34', had previously stated that he was suffering from a hamstring issue, while Alhassan picked up a "little niggle", according to Porter.
Alvas Powell was back in practice today after missing most of last week while with the Jamaican National Team.