As everyone by now knows, Kris Boyd will officially be a Timber sometime in the next few weeks, barring any unforeseen hangups. Regardless of how we really feel about that, it sure was exciting to see Merritt Paulson bounding out of the tunnel on his way to us members of the press waiting on the side of the field. He hadn't exactly been hiding his enthusiasm earlier when serenaded us with an unrecognizable tune while we sat a quarter of the way up in Section 116 watching the training session, so I had a feeling something was up. Something good.
Sure enough, about a half hour after the session had ended and all the interviews were done they held a mini press conference on the field and announced the news.
Of course, when the training session was going on none of us knew any of this Boyd business was in the offing.
The same trialists are all still in camp with the team, and they are all expected to make the trip down to LA. Jack Jewsbury was back today, a bit groggy and disoriented from a couple of sleepless nights but still working hard on the pitch. The team did not participate in any scrimmage-like activity today, focusing instead on fitness, possession, and intercepting.
They started out with short passes in three small circles of 6v2 keep-away, followed by two 6v6 games, each taking up a quarter of the field. They finished with a half-field game with all players involved except the goalkeepers, the object being just to keep possession of the ball in play for as long as possible. It looked exhausting.
As the field got bigger the play got messier, and players seemed to rely on the cross-field boot more often than they probably should have. Rodney Wallace was a standout on the big field, though, as his speed was hard for opponents to match. Chris Taylor looked good on defense as well.
Miguel Ibarra had some impressive turns in keeping possession, showing a knack for combining with his teammates to work the ball out of the corner. He made it look easy, almost as if he prefers to work with his back against the wall.
Meanwhile, the keepers worked on coming off the line and bringing down long aerial crosses, then on accuracy with the long ball. They still need a bit of work on the latter.
Coach Spencer and Captain Jack both mentioned that the team would be coming back out to train again in the afternoon, so it was a tough day of running for the players.
On the training strategy at this point of the preseason
We've just run them a little bit more today, because of having an easier day Saturday and Sunday off. So we're just getting back into the grind on Monday, just doing a bit more running than we usually do, but every team this time of year -- I wouldn't imagine there are that many teams fully into shape at this present time. It's all about getting the legs under them, getting the lungs opened up and getting them going again.
On what Mike Toshack, Goalkeeping Coach, brings to the team
Well, obviously experience. You know, we have a really experienced goalkeeper in Troy Perkins, and then we've got a young goalkeeper in Jake Gleeson. So if you look at Mike Toshack, working with an older goalkeeper in Pat Onstad at that time in Houston for a couple of years and managed him really well ... and then he went to Toronto and worked with a younger goalkeeper, Stefan Frei, and we all know how good he is. So I think he's worked at both ends of the spectrum, and I think he'll be a great help for Troy and for Jake Gleeson.
On Cameron Knowles
Yeah, as I say, he's added to the staff, and we don't really have a first, second, third assistant here -- we're a staff, obviously, and I'm the head coach and will make the final decision on the team and how we play, etc. but I'm a big believer in trying to -- and it's no different, my mentality from bringing players through the youth clubs here in Portland to the academy, and to the ODP, PDL, and the reserves and hopefully the first team. I've said that, way back, when I first came here, you know, it would be great to look back in seven, eight, ten years time, and see, you know, ten, fifteen young kids that's come up through the system, playing for your first team.
And that's no different with the coaching staff. I think it's very important, young Cameron, who's come on as a young coach, obviously he's played the game, which helps, and he's also played the game here in this city, so -- I wouldn't say he bleeds green, but he knows how important it is to be successful with this team in this city. So that's why we've brought him on board; I think he'll be a great young addition to us.
On how much sleep he's had lately
A little bit last night. She's sleeping during the day and staying up during the night. So she's got it a little backwards right now, but no, it's exciting. We got her home yesterday afternoon. [Her name is Taylor Ann(e) -- not sure if there's an "e" at the end of "Ann" or not.]
On the first week of training
It's been good. First and foremost you gotta get a good fitness base, and then add the ball in a little bit. I think guys are excited when they get to play a little bit more, which is nice. The main thing is, when we're playing with the ball to make sure we're still getting our fitness in, so we don't have to go back the other way and start running for hours on end. The attitude's been great, I think everyone came in pretty fit, so we're ready to get going.
On Coach Spencer's confidence in him as captain
It's definitely nice. We have a great relationship. He's one of those guys that everyone, myself included, wants to work for day in, day out, to make the results come when it matters.