The Portland Timbers trained at their Beaverton practice facility today after returning from their usual mid-week break. The team started their tactical preparations for Saturday's match against Chivas USA today behind closed doors, keeping practice shut to the press until the very end.
As the press was released out onto the pitch, the Timbers were going through the final minutes of their cool down process, doing core exercises in a group (we are talking some side planks). The exercises wrapped up quickly and the team either headed indoors or stayed on the pitch to kick a ball around or generally goof off. At one point a spontaneous dog-pile on Frederic Piquionne occurred, with a group of laughing players suddenly piling onto the striker.
One of the instigators of the messing around, Pa Modou Kah, talked to the press after practice. Despite the post-practice levity, Kah still had his mind focused on a win this weekend.
Our job is to keep a clean sheet and we have not been able to do it right now. It takes pride and I am not happy about it because that is what people are going to count me on, so I am looking forward to getting our first clean sheet. I think the whole back line, everybody who was playing in a defensive position, was angry because we haven't kept a clean sheet yet, but we are looking forward to it and we will do our best at it on Saturday.
Although the team has not yet kept a clean sheet this season after getting fifteen in 2013, Kah says that the Timbers' defenders are still full of self-belief.
As long as you don't win some teams will have doubts, but we don't have any doubts. We have the confidence and we believe in ourselves and we know what we are capable of so we are just looking forward to the game.
Kah, and the rest of the defensive unit, may be disappointed in giving up two late goals against the Seattle Sounders in last weekend's 4-4 draw, but he is determined to learn from the experience and move forward.\
You can't all the time dwell on what happened in the past, but you can look at the past and pick up on some things and try to make it right in the future. That is what we should be trying to do against Chivas.
Injuries and Absences
Donovan Ricketts was on the pitch with the rest of the team today when the press was allowed onto the pitch. The Timbers' keeper was suited up, but he was not taking part in the team cooldown during the brief time it was open to the press. Ricketts' had been forecast to be ready to play against Chivas USA by Caleb Porter at the time of his injury and suspension, and again on Monday, but with practice closed it is hard to tell his exact situation.
Will Johnson was also out on the pitch today after suffering a contusion to his leg against the Sounders. Unlike Ricketts, however, Johnson was in the team cooldown. On Monday Porter said that Johnson would be fine for Saturday's match.
Rodney Wallace was still out on the pitch at the end of practice again today. For the second day in a row, Wallace was taking shots on goal under the supervision of a trainer. While he likely still has a ways to go before getting back into training, Wallce's recovery since undergoing ACL surgery over the offseason has appeared steady.
Trialists and Guest Players
Daniel Withrow continued his time with the team today. With Donovan Ricketts' still not confirmed to be 100% ahead of this weekend's match, we could see Withrow on the bench behind Andrew Weber again.