The Portland Timbers held a closed practice session today at their Beaverton training facility, allowing the press onto the pitch to witness the final minutes of training. Having gone through their usual regeneration program in a completely closed session on Monday, the Timbers were back to it today as they start preparing to take on the Seattle Sounders in the first Cascadia Cup match of 2014.
When practice was opened to the press after training had wrapped up, the bulk of the Timbers players went through a short cool down routine before heading inside for a gym workout. Remaining on the field were the keepers, who worked at one end of the pitch with Mike Toshack, and George Fochive, who practiced his juggling and shooting at the other.
After they wrapped up, Caleb Porter took a moment to address the press and, unsurprisingly, the bulk of the questions asked had to do with the mysterious red cards issued to Michael Harrington and Je-Vaughn Watson in the Timbers' 2-1 loss to FC Dallas over the weekend.
Porter was quick to confirm that the team have appealed the card and he clearly feels that they have a strong case.
We are appealing. We have seen video. We have sent video. We have great video of it. It is from a distance, but the panoramic cameras catch everything. They're the eye in the sky.
Porter then went into more detail on his feelings about the card and the way that is was issued.
Based on what I've seen there is nothing there. For me it is a ridiculous call. The linesman flagged two guys for a red card twenty-five yards from the play and, from what I've seen on the video, it is basically two guys bumping into each other: something that happens every game all over the field. There were many plays in that game way worse than that so, for me.
Beyond just the match against Dallas, Porter had some strong words on the recent number of missed calls in Timbers matches. Although it seems likely that he will be sanctioned by the league for talking about the referees, Porter clearly felt that he needed to make a point.
Bottom line is, we are told to bite our lip all the time, that is a ridiculous call. Ridiculous. I try to be honest with the game. I think I give a fair perspective always on the game. I don't want to whine and I am not making excuses, we lost the game, but that call is ridiculous in my opinion and the linesman need to focus on calling offsides and onsides, not trying to flag red cards twenty-five yards from the play.
In the Colorado match the linesman missed three clear onsides. He called them off and it was on. Three of them. This linesman, again, trying to be the show calls a red card, two red cards, and now we have a player missing two games for doing absolutely nothing.
Injuries and Absences
Darlington Nagbe was not in the team stretching as practice was opened to the press. Nagbe was taken out of Saturday's game with a knock following a series of fouls from Jair Benitez. Porter did not specifically say that Nagbe would not be able to play this weekend, but strongly implied it, talking about Nagbe's string of 52 straight starts for the club and how it was imperiled by his lack of protection from the referees in MLS.
Steve Zakuani was also absent from the end of practice. Zakuani was not in the 18 against Dallas thanks to a tight hamstring before the game. Porter told the press that Zakuani was "day to day".
Donovan Ricketts was not with the keepers today as they continued training after the rest of the team headed indoors. We did not get an update on Ricketts' status, although Porter said last week that he would be available for the match against Chivas USA next week.
Rodney Wallace was at the training center today as he continues working his way back from his offseason knee surgery. Wallace was not on the field with the rest of the team, but was spotted in the parking lot after practice had wrapped up.
Steven Evans was not seen in the post-practice stretching with the rest of the team; not a surprise as he is still recovering from his own offseason surgery on his back.
Players on loan: Schillo Tshuma and Taylor Peay are both still with Orange County Blues. The Blues have not played since last week. Bryan Gallego and Aaron Long are still with Sacramento Republic FC, while Jake Gleeson has returned to the Timbers to back up Andrew Weber during Donovan Ricketts' suspension. Gleeson played 90' in the Republic's season opener on Saturday, recording five saves in the 1-1 draw with LA Galaxy II. Long also made an appearance, coming on in the 82' to close out the match.
Trialists and Guest Players
MLS pool goalkeeper Daniel Withrow was still with the team today, taking part in the keeper workouts today.