The Portland Timbers will be losing their third fitness coach in three years when Director of Sports Science, John Cone, leaves the team in the next several week, the Timbers confirmed yesterday. Cone will stay on with the team to finish treating the players who are still in town, according to the team.
As the Director of Sports Science, the first in Timbers' history, Cone brought an analytic approach to the team's training that was in-line with Porter's cerebral take on the game. Although not usually a celebrated position, the Timbers could be hard pressed to find a better fit at fitness coach for the team.
The 2013 season, under Cone's guidance, saw the Timbers transform their conditioning from a liability to a strength, a necessity in Caleb Porter's preferred high-pressure system. The influx of new talent into the Timbers' bench in 2013 would have been sorely lacking without the improvements in fitness over the previous year.
Nowhere was the impact of this felt more than in the Timbers' number of late game goals. In 2012 the Timbers scored 5 goals in the final 15' of their matches, tied with Chivas USA for the league's worst, and allowed 13 in the same period. In 2013, however, the Timbers scored 13 goals while only allowing 6 in the final 15' of their games.
The Timbers saw the effects of their increased fitness on an individual level as well with several MLS veterans setting new personal bests for minutes played including Diego Chara, Michael Harrington, Will Johnson, Darlington Nagbe, and your 2013 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, Donovan Ricketts.