The Portland Timbers held a sparsely attended practice today at Jeld-Wen Field ahead of their reserve match-up against the Seattle Sounders this evening. Training today consisted of only twelve players thanks to injuries and the absence of the reserves. The Timbers started practice with fitness drills before John Spencer decided to close practice to the press.
Hanyer Mosquera continued his return to fitness, participating in the entirety of practice today. Although he showed some signs of rust in his touch in some early ball-handling drills, Mosquera looked fit, keeping up with Diego Chara as his running partner early in practice.
More training notes plus quotes from John Spencer, Franck Songo'o, and Mike Chabala after the jump.
David Horst also practiced today. Although today's workout consisted solely of fitness training while practice was still open after the warm-ups, Horst's movement looked significantly improved from where it was only a week ago.
Other players practicing today and not with the reserves included Troy Perkins, Mike Chabala, Lovel Palmer, Franck Songo'o, Kalif Alhassan, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe, and Kris Boyd.
Notable absences included Eric Brunner, who picked up a light should injury that was reportedly nothing serious; Andrew Jean-Baptiste, who will play with the reserves tonight; and both back up goal keepers, with Jake Gleeson and Joe Bendik picking up knee injuries. Also not practicing today was Eric Alexander
whose status is currently unknown to me who is not on the injury report and will be at practice on Thursday according to the Timbers' FO.
With the Timbers keeper pool suddenly very empty, the team activated MLS pool keeper Brian Rowe to play in today's reserve game and back up Troy Perkins in Los Angeles this weekend if need be. Working out with the team today was former USL Timbers keeper Steve Reese, who played with the team as a third string keeper from 2007 to 2008. Reese is currently a coach with the Timbers satellite academy in Salem and has joined the team to help out in practice for the time being.
Trialist Brett Evans is still with the Timbers, but did not practice today as he will be with the reserves tonight.
On last Saturday's game vs. Chivas USA
I think that we a lot of quality here and we all get frustraited, not winning games, and the bottom line was when I watched the game again I thought the first half we controlled the tempo of the game. I just still feel that we could have upped it a couple of levels, energy-wise, and when you don't, when you get chances or half-chances to score, you've got to try and punish teams when you are. When you give teams a chance to sit and to stay in the game there is always a chance of tying or losing and we have done that in the last two games. For me, I think that, looking back, that was a stone-wall penalty against Eric Brunner that we should have got and that gives us the chance to put the game two nil up, but we never.
The players are frustrated, the coaching staff is frustrated, and the only way you can get rid of that frustration is playing well and winning games.
On the possible penalties that have not been given to the Timbers this season
Players know what they have got to do, we, as a staff, know what we've got to do. I think that if you take a look at the typical game that we've had this year, we've had a great call for a penalty kick at important times in the games and little things like that can become huge decisions. When you are winning then they are small situations. When you are not winning or are looking for that goal to kill off a team they become huge situations.
The one on Brunner over the weekend was a stone-wall penalty. The one on Brunner against Salt Lake with Nat Borchers slamming him to the ground was a stone-wall penalty. I think in New England we had a stone-wall penalty with Shalrie Joseph in the six when he stops a cross and we've got two players standing in the six waiting for tap-ins. That's huge decisions that we need to start hopefully go our way. You get a little but of luck, you get the decision to go your way, and then things turn around.
On the injuries suffered by Timbers players this season
We still don't think we've hit top gear yet, but, in saying that, we're missing good pieces at the back. We're missing good pieces in midfield, i.e. Sal Zizzo. He gives us energy, I think, when he comes on the field. The fans enjoy him. He gets people excited, off their bums and onto their feet. Kalif getting a groin strain after starting so well against Philadelphia sets us back. We play through our wing guys quite often.
They all came at the wrong time, but that's a thing that you've got to deal with in modern sports. You've got to get on with it so the more sessions we can get with these guys on the field and them not breaking down and taking setbacks... Last week we had to play Franck because Kalif tweaked his groin a couple of days before the game, so we couldn't start him, so we are kind of putting subs in the game that are not physically capable of completing the game. We put Franck in from the start and we knew, right away before we even did that, that we are going to have to make a substitution for him at some time in the game. We are coaching a little bit with our hands tied behind our back, but when we get these guys fit and healthy that is when you should judge us as a team.
Kalif and Franck have competed, and competed well, the last couple of days and put in some good, hard work that they needed because they missed so many weeks of training. The quality is unquestioned. We need to get them fit. Once we get them fit, if we are losing games I will be very surprised.
On Franck Songo'o
If anybody would have seen him playing in preseason, everything that we did with any quality at all, any assists, it was him. This guy can play. It is just our job is to get him fit and ready and not break him down. His attitude toward playing here is fantastic and he really wants to be a huge success. Now that we have got him through the first initial week or ten days of training and there has been no tweaks or no problems elsewhere from the injury that he had or any other muscle injuries, we really start to take some giant steps forward and the more we get him on the field, the better we will become.
On the Los Angeles Galaxy
I think this is a very inconsistant league at times. There is a lot of shocks and surprises week in and week out. That is what parity is all about: you can beat any team on any given day. For us, we know it is going to be another difficult game. If you've won the last four, five, or ten games, you're still going to face a difficult team in LA at home in California. So, regardless of us losing three or winning ten in a row, it is going to be a difficult tie, so we have got to get down there and we've got to prepare well, which we've started at the start of this week, and have the confidence to go play and prove that we are a good team.
I just know that, from my time in Houston, with two championships back to back, both seasons afterwords we started very, very slow. That's why they call it a championship hangover. It is something that you can't really describe. I remember myself and [Dominic Kinnear], and the staff sitting down and thinking, what's wrong with us? Why are we not winning games? With guys like [Brian Ching], [Dwayne DeRosario], [Stuart Holden], and [Ricardo Clarke], and that type of top quality players we were losing games and tying them. I think we never won one game in the first seven after the first year that we won the trophy, so they have that championship hangover and sooner or later their quality is going to shine. We just hope it's not this weekend.
On the Timbers' 3-0 victory over the Galaxy last year
I don't think that Bruce Arena will probably even remember the game. I think it was their first loss in 200 ties or so. They went that long home and away and I don't think that would have been too much of a big blip in Bruce Arena's memory banks. For us, as a new franchise, it was a big night for us, live on television, and it was something that you look back many years later and say that was a good occasion to be a part of, but for Bruce Arena, no. I mean, he lifted the Championship trophy and I don't think he'll be worrying too much about us coming to their place this weekend.
On tonight's reserve game against the Seattle Sounders
We're looking to get guys minutes. First and foremost, guys that we consider first team players that are not getting minutes with the first team, just to give them a run out, hopefully stay healthy, and hopefully get a good result.
The reserve games are important, but you are losing half of the squad. We've only got eight or ten guys out here training and that's including David Horst, so it's not the ideal time to have a reserve game, but the bottom line is that it is the commitment that you've got and I know it's not easy when you've got CONCACAF games and you've got to play them mid-week. It is never easy. The game is always easy, simple for everybody that is watching it. Everybody that is coaching it when you are winning is a genius, when you're losing everybody is full of opinions for what you should do and shouldn't do. We know what we've got in the squad. We know what we've got here, what we've got in the club, and it is only a matter of time before we start winning some games.
On his current level of fitness
Like I said before, I am ready for whatever the coach wants me to do. From the start, from the bench, sixty minutes, ninety minutes, I am ready for whatever he wants, so I am available. That's it.
On recovering form an injury
It is not easy, you know. Everything was going well for me, personally, then I had a little trouble but I have to work hard to be where I was and to be ready.
On the Los Angeles Galaxy
They've got a great team. They are not in the best moment right now. It is the same with us: we've got a great team, but we're not at our best. We've got chances. We've got to go down there and play against them and do our best to get a win.
On how the wider field in LA affects his game
That does not really change it. We have the same fields here. We are playing football, so we are going to play on any field. That does not change.
On his style of play compared to the Timbers other wide players
I think we all are different. Things change in the game, sometimes you have to go up against your defender, sometimes you have got to slow things down for the team to have a rest, to think about the play you are going to do. It's about switching the game. I do it, Kalif does it, Eric does it, [Sal Zizzo] does it. I think we all know how to do it, but it is about switching the game.
On getting minutes with the first team
I don't consider myself a first team or second team, I think we're all part of one group. I think whether you are with that group or with this group we are all under the same umbrella. With that being said, opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. This is an opportunity for me. Obviously it is unfortunate for Rodney, but I need to make sure that I continue the good things that I was doing last year and build off of this week to get myself ready for the opportunity this weekend.
It is an important game for all of us, but, like I said earlier in the year, whatever role John needed me to play I was going to be up for it. If it wasn't scripted the way I wanted it that does not mean that I can't change it. That's my job and that is what I am going to have to do.
On his experience in MLS
I've been a part of situations like this in Houston, when we got off to a first five game run which was pretty bad. We had two, three losses and everybody was getting pretty upset and worried, but the one thing that was said and done and lead by the older guys was just the experience and collecting the group and getting them under control. I think that experience is something that I have to call on now.
Regardless that I haven't played in the first four matches of the year, it does not need to take away from the experience that I have and to make my leadership known, whether I am wearing the captain's armband or not, it does not make any difference. I have seven years experience with some of the best guys in Major League Soccer that have played this game. That is work something. I just need to make sure that I go do my job, first and foremost, be a leader, organize in the back, and get our first shutout of the year.
On the Los Angeles Galaxy
They are a good club. They've got good players, some of the best players in the World. I mean, Landon Donovan is arguably one the best players in MLS.
Both teams are at a point where they need to get things going. They have been struggling a bit and I think John said it best, we're one game away from beating somebody pretty good. This is going to be a tough road game because I think they have got a lot of motivation to do well and get themselves going. It is a big opportunity.
Obviously they have got all the big players that you talk about in the papers and you read about, but at the same time you look at the quality we have in this locker room,the athleticism, the youth and the speed, it is a poised group, ready to break out. I think that both clubs are dangerous. I think this is going to be a tough road game just because it is going to be a game that they are up for, but it is one that we can get something out of.