The Portland Timbers held a closed practice today before their final preseason game tomorrow evening.
The Timbers’ international players, Rodney Wallace, Steve Purdy, and Futty Danso, were back and training with the team. Purdy, whose injury in El Salvador’s 2-0 loss to Estonia on Wednesday night sparked a riot among the El Salvador supporters, looked to be in good shape with only some light swelling and small bandage covering the stitches beneath his right eye.
Kris Boyd was once again practicing with the team and, as tweeted by Merritt Paulson earlier today, will be likely be see some minutes tomorrow night. John Spencer even confirmed his intention to start Boyd, barring any injury in practice today.
Darlington Nagbe and Sal Zizzo warmed up with the team before breaking off to run laps while the rest of the team played keep away. According to John Spencer, Nagbe is still recovering from an ankle knock that was aggravated on Monday against San Jose.
Eric Alexander left the pitch early with the team’s trainer thanks to a tweaked hamstring. After practice, Spencer confirmed that the team was being careful with Alexander and trying not to worsen the injury before the season.
After the team warmed up, the media was removed from the pitch until after practice.
More practice notes, Steve Purdy’s account of his injury, and quotes from John Spencer and Mike Chabala after the jump.
After practice, a number of the Timbers players stayed on the pitch for shooting drills and individual work with the coaches.
Brent Richards and Chris Taylor practiced passes along the sideline, indicating that the Timbers are not ready to give up on Richards as a midfielder after one sub-par showing on Thursday.
Sebastian Rincon worked on his left footed dribbling. After showing his dribbling prowess to the fans against Chivas, Rincon earned some rave reviews for his showmanship, but he has shown himself to very right-footed so far.
Of the players taking shots on goal, including Kris Boyd, the highlights came from Bright Dike who looked very dialed-in and who had no problems chipping around and over Joe Bendick, something Dike has struggled with in several practices this preseason.
On his injury
There was a cross and their forward had a pretty clear header on goal but I had to jump in front and block the ball, dive in the way. As I was doing that his elbow caught me as I was diving in. He didn’t score so it was worth it, but he made a pretty big gash on my face and bent my nose a little bit too.
I got eight stitches right here. They it’s not broken, but I’ll go to a nose specialist to see what they say.
It still hurts, especially when I head the ball it vibrates and it is still moving around a little bit. The soft tissue isn’t stable yet.
On possibly wearing a mask
I don’t want to, but at the same time it would be good for intimidation as a defender. Maybe I will get the rest of the back line to do it with me. We’ll see what the nose doctor says.
On if the elbow was intentional
I don’t know. It was clumsy. After the game I told him, you hit me a couple times with your elbow. I don’t know if you’re doing it on purpose but you have got watch out in the future because it’s dangerous to defenders and other players on the field.
Purdy also noted that the Estonian forward, who was about 6’6", was swinging his elbows often but they went over the heads of his shorter teammates. When asked about the fans throwing items at the referee he confirmed that they were doing so in support of him. The referee has been calling a questionable game and the El Salvadoran fans, upon seeing him covered in blood and not having a foul called or a card issued, began throwing whatever they could find, according to Purdy, which caused the match to be ended early.
On Kris Boyd
He’ll start the game tomorrow if there is no reaction to anything after we get in after practice. As far as I’m concerned he is going to start the game tomorrow.
He said that his body feels good. The first five or six days he was here, he was getting put through the paces and you get that lactic acid, sore feeling. The thing is, when you get that early in preseason, you’re not really playing eleven vs eleven games.
He came in this morning and said that his body feels fine. He’s nowhere near match fit, but his body feels than it did five or six days ago. We’ll get him in from the start, let the fans have a look at him, and hopefully get some chances and get him off to a good start.
On Eric Alexander
He’s just got a little bit of a hamstring strain, so we’re being careful with him. I’ve had those injuries myself and they are horrible injuries. If you don’t look after them from the offset, they they can be lingering a few months and that is the last thing we need with him.
On if Alexander will play tomorrow
No, probably not.
On Darlington Nagbe
The problem is he came back and he felt fine then someone caught him right on the spot and he was having pain against San Jose and we just felt that it was best to get him some rest and see that he heals quickly then get him back.
On Steve Purdy
He’s got eight stitches beneath his eye. He only played 88 minutes for his national team the other day and we were hoping to get another 55 out of him the other night, but he had a gash below his eye and a sore nose.
Hopefully we’ll be able to get him on the field tomorrow with us.
On the end of the preseason
I can’t believe how fast it has gone by. There have been a lot of positives, a lot of guys have gotten minutes. Camp has been a stretch. Guys have had a lot of work and we’ve definitely seen progress. In our opinion it has been positive. Coming in to this last week there has been a lot that we can build off of and a lot that we can be better at, but that is what it is all about, building up to March 12th.
On playing against international competition
In my eyes the opponent doesn’t really make a difference. It is more about us because the main focus is March 12th. We want to win this tournament, we want to win a trophy here and win as much hardware as we possibly can, but we have got to focus on our regular season games. Whether we are playing anybody in our league or anybody out of the league it wouldn’t matter.
It’s going to be a good opportunity for us to show against an international club. All of these games are important just to size them up. Everybody is always asking how Major League Soccer will compare against the rest of the world so I think it is a good opportunity for us to measure ourselves up against them, especially at a time when I think we are going to be stepping into our own, getting ourselves to match fitness, and getting ready for game day on March 12th.