The Portland Timbers practiced today at their Beaverton training facility before flying out to Los Angeles for tomorrow's match against the LA Galaxy. Today's closed practice ended slightly later than normal for the Timbers' pre-match routine.
Once the session was wrapped up, Caleb Porter talked to the press about how he anticipates the Galaxy will approach tomorrow's match.
They are definitely going to play open. That is their MO. They want an up-tempo, end to end, box to box, very open type game. That benefits them because [Robbie Keane] and [Landon Donovan], in an open game, they are going to hurt you. We have not let the games get open when we have played them and I think that a big reason why we have had success is that we have managed the tempo, we have been very organized when the ball turns over.
Porter was clearly wary of the Galaxy attack as he talked about the best way to contain them.
They are a team that can really punish you, especially after you have had a bit of the ball they will catch you in transition and really open you up. Organization is key. Managing the tempo off the ball with organization and compactness is key, but also managing the tempo on the ball as well. Using the ball and resting on the ball and making them defend and having possession has been a key for us when we have played this team.
Defending through possession has been a hallmark of this Timbers side since Porter took over. However, he has always insisted that he wants his team to play in the way that will best lead to wins. Against the Galaxy, Porter warned the press of the danger that a possession-based game plan holds against the Galaxy.
The danger of having the ball is the transition. When they play on the break they are really dangerous. There is a real balance and a catch-22 against LA in having the ball. Probably they are more dangerous on the counter-attack, so when you have the ball perhaps you are more vulnerable. I think it is key to have the ball against this team because against Keane and Donovan you want to make them work, you want to make them defend, and by having the ball they are not able to attack.
Liam Ridgewell has not yet joined the Timbers in training and, according to Porter, likely will not do so until sometime next week. Once he has joined the Timbers, Ridgewell will almost certainly need to get back to fitness after not having played for over a month, so his ability to immediately join the Timbers' starting XI is questionable at best.
Injuries and Absences
Pa Modou Kah and Norberto Paparatto both continued to miss time in training today because of injuries. Kah continues to be held back by a case of achilles tendinitis, a problem that has dogged him for a large part of the season this year. Paparatto, who has been dealing with a long series of injuries since joining the Timbers, most recently an ankle knock, was on the pitch today working with a trainer, but did not take part in practice with the rest of the team. Both players were ruled out for tomorrow's match against LA by Porter.
Steve Zakuani was also ruled out by Porter and spent the day on the sidelines of the field, working with a trainer alongside Paparatto.
Maximiliano Urruti was the surprise inclusion on the team's injured list, also being listed off by Porter as having taken a knock and consequentially being unavailable for tomorrow's match.
Trialists and Guest Players
The Timbers looked to have several member of the Timbers U-23s in practice today to fill out the team's numbers given the number of injuries that they are dealing with.