Do y'all realize it snowed this morning? Crazy. Actually, as a Minnesota native, I would have preferred snow to 38 degrees and windy rain. But there's soccer to be practiced, and practice to be reported on. That's the sacrifice I make.
It was a closed practice today, so oregonlive's Kip Kesgard and I talked over the news and absences before hanging out in the conference room for an hour. Kris Boyd was not participating in the regular practice, although I was told he was on site, working indoors on his conditioning and recuperating from the ankle knock he took earlier in the week.
All the Timbers' international callups had already left to join their respective teams this morning. Steve Purdy's in Los Angeles getting ready for El Salvador's match against Estonia. Futty Danso is headed home to The Gambia to practice with a new national team coach before their African Cup of Nations qualifier.
Rodney Wallace is also crossing the ocean to join Costa Rica in Cardiff ahead of their match against Wales. Kip Kesgard reported that he hopes Wallace is able to avoid running afoul of any aliens coming through the rift there. That comment initiated a little bit of a nerd-off between the two of us, which, Stumptown Footy readers will be pleased to hear, I totally won. (Wallace, much like the TARDIS, will hopefully find an opportunity to recharge himself while in Cardiff.)
Read more about practice and less about how much of a dork I am, plus comments from Brent Richards and Freddie Braun, after the jump.
In other news, Lovel Palmer joined the team for warmups and small-area keep-away while Darlington Nagbe jogged around the field with a ball. He's reportedly making good progress and keeping his fitness up during his hiatus. Franck Songo'o was also absent, and there are some reports from elsewhere that he's away from Portland, although I was not informed of that at the time.
When we were allowed back on the field, offensive players were taking part in a shooting drill, with the keepers trading off the responsibility of trying to keep the ball out of the net. Bright Dike and Freddie Braun were both pounding the ball in and scoring their fair share, and Kalif Alhassan and Sebastian Rincon were slipping the ball inside all the corners. Meanwhile, Jorge Perlaza wasn't getting quite as much juice on the ball as we're used to seeing, and Brent Richards seemed to be skying a lot of them high into the stands, although he had a few nice shots too.
On his performance Thursday night against OSU:
I haven't played left mid in a while, so it was good to get out there. I felt that I did decent at times -- I think I had some good moments. But it felt good to be out there. It's a completely different role, we're expected to do different things as a wide mid -- you're expected to get up and down the whole game, and you play offense and defense the whole game, and get crosses in, so that was my primary objective the whole game -- get on the end of things and get crosses in.
On playing defense as a wide midfielder:
It's a little different -- as a forward you're just trying to push them to one side and keep the ball in a predictable area. As a wide mid you're a little constrained because you have a sideline there.
I think it was a little bit of a confidence builder, I had some good moments, and I had Rodney back there giving me pointers the whole time, so that was good. He was just communicating a lot, telling me when to get back, when to get forward, what to do with the ball. He was telling me when to check in, check out, so it was good to have him give me a little guidance on that kind of stuff. It's good to get that kind of direction from the older players.
On training for the first time as a professional:
It's good. It's everything I thought it would be and more. Yeah, it was a little bit of an adjustment at first, but I'm really liking the whole experience. I knew it was going to be difficult, so I'm not going to say I was expecting to come in and be on the starting XI. It's a lot different going from the college game to the professional game, so hopefully I can make a full adjustment and start to compete with these guys and vie for a spot.
On his performance Thursday night, and the upcoming tournament:
I thought I did pretty well. Played a lot of possession, kept the ball. We scored. I thought we had the ball in their half basically the whole half I was in, and I thought that was really good.
I think that you just have to come out every game, and whoever it is, whether it's college teams or MLS, foreign teams, I just think you have to play to the standard of excellence that coach sets for us. So I think that was a big test of, no matter who we play we always gotta win.
I think last year, playing in exhibition games, it gave me a lot of confidence while playing against them. These are the best teams in the world, and I can play. I've seen you on video games, TV, and here I am playing against you. So it's a fun experience.
On what he hopes to accomplish this season:
My first goal is to make the 18. Last year I was only on it maybe a few times. You take baby steps to get on the field. And that involves playing in practices and being the best player in practice. And then from there just wait for the opportunity and take it.