The Portland Timbers returned to a closed practice at Jeld-Wen Field today after taking the day off on Wednesday. With the reserves in attendance and several players returning to practice, training was a more spirited affair than it was earlier in the week.
Eric Brunner and Eric Alexander both practiced with the team today after missing Tuesday's practice. Jorge Perlaza (who I wrongly assumed would be with the reserves on Tuesday) also practiced today. Jake Gleeson returned to practice as well after missing the beginning of the week with a knee injury, but was no longer on the pitch with the rest of the team after practice.
More notes on today's training plus quotes from John Spencer, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, and Jack Jewsbury after the jump.
The Timbers also had several guest players in attendance as South African left back Brett Evans continued his trial with the team. Although with practice closed there was no opportunity to see Evans in action, he showed a good touch during the team's warm ups and took several well placed free kicks on his own after practice had concluded. Major League Soccer pool goalkeeper Brian Rowe also continued to practice with the team while Joe Bendik is out after having surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee.
Several injured Timbers players were sighted today with Futty Danso and James Marcelin watching the end of practice from the entrance to the Timbers' locker room. Jose Adolfo Valencia also made an appearance, observing practice from the advertising boards and coming over to talk to some of the Timbers staff.
As usual, after practice most of the team stayed on the field to continue practicing on their own. Kris Boyd stayed out to work on his shooting longer than anyone else. Boyd worked on creating space with his first touch and taking a quick shot, which was his bread and butter in the Scottish Premier League.
On the state of the team
We're fine. Phsyically we're fine. We're getting guys more minutes on the field that we want to, [Frank Songo'o] and [Kalif Alhassan], which is good. The guys are coming through all right and our confidence is up. It is just up to us now to get a good training session tomorrow, go down to LA, and be ready to play.
On Frank Songo'o and Kalif Alhassan
They're fine. No strains there, they're pain free. The only thing they are short of is just game fitness.The more they train down here and the more minutes they get in games the better they will become.
On Sal Zizzo
I think he's been a quick recovery. I wouldn't say he is ready to play in the first team yet, but I think that we've taken this length of time with him and it's important that we done do something stupid and it gives him a setback. I think he got 25-30 minutes against San Jose, he's got 45 now, so once he completes two or three reserve games, 90 minute reserve games, then I think he'll be elligible to be looked at for the first team.
On Hanyer Mosquera
He's fine. He's clear. He'll be in contention for the game on Saturday for sure.
On the play of the reserves against Seattle
I wouldn't say that anybody's play pushed them into a first team spot. I would say that it was a good performance. We had a lot of young guys out there, a couple experienced guys out there, and we had some good performances from the young players, notably Brent Richards played probably the best football that he has played since he came here. He's starting to settle down into the environment of the professional game and he did well. He caused Seattle a lot of trouble with his movement and, I'll tell you what, he's incredibly good in the air for his size, so I was pretty pleased with him. I thought Freddie Braun worked really hard and controlled things in the midfield. There was good performances, but I wouldn't say that there was enough to be dropping an experienced play of five or six years from the first team to put a young guy in.
On Andrew Jean-Baptiste's inclusion in Cosmo Magazine's list of 2012's hottest MLS players
Well, I think that if he looks in the mirror he'll probably see that someone has been pulling his chain, that's for sure.
On playing against Seattle's reserves on Tuesday
I felt the tension as I walked into the stadium. I just feel it. I could tell it is a big rivalry between the two clubs and I can only imagine how the first team games are going to be like.
It gives you a little taste of it. It was like the preseason games before our home opener, it just gives you a little taste of when the real game comes up. I could tell that it is going to be pretty exciting and pretty crazy when that game comes up.
On defending against a sustained Seattle attack at the end of the game
I sat down with coach Knowles and talked to him and asked, what could we have done to prevent that? He was just like, hold your line as high as possible. As soon as we dropped back and just sat back and let them come at us for fifteen minutes... It was the longest fifteen minutes. Even when it went into stoppage time, the ref said two minutes and it was the longest two minutes I've ever played.
We just sat back and we took their attack. We kept our clean sheet, but it's not what we are supposed to do. I asked coach how we are supposed to prevent that and he said just get your line as high as possible. Every single time they take a touch back, my old coach used to call that a negative pass, you just step up two yards.
On the late pressure put on the first team by Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA
I see that with both teams we both did it. With the games I have gotten in with the first team, there's times we sat back and let the other team attack us. Franck Songo'o said it best: the best defense is when we have the ball. It is not even when we are pressuring, it's when we have the ball they can't attack us at all. That's something we didn't do. Every chance we got the ball we just booted it up then sat back and let them come right back at us again.
On his inclusion in Cosmo Magazine's list of 2012's hottest MLS players
I'm still wondering how my name even got up on that list. I mean, I'm not pushing it past them. Have you looked at me? [He laughed]
I was actually shocked. I didn't believe it. David Horst came up to me in the training room in the morning and he says, whats up, Mr. Cosmo. I didn't know what he meant, but soon after I saw it I was just like, wow. I was speechless. Theonly thing I ask for is a better picture.
On preparing to take on the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday
The guys yesterday, if they needed to come in and get something taken care of, they did. It was a good day to kind of think about things, relax a little bit, then get back to work today. The mentality is good and we're ready to move on from last week.
I think that everybody, whether it is just being a little bit more professional and taking care of your bodies nutrition-wise or getting on top of things quicker, everybody has got to be in the same place and we've got to be working toward the same goal. I think that is setting in with everybody and now it is about going on the field and making things happen because the past is the past and we're moving on.
I think the coaching staff has broken them down and talked about them. It is about us going out there and implimenting the game plan as best we can. We're not going there to sit back and look for a tie. We have the group here to head to LA and get three points against a tough team.
On the Los Angeles Galaxy
Obviously they are a very talented group and I am sure that they are disappointed, as we are, with the last few results, but, like I said, you can't dwell on the past. You've got to move forward and I know they are looking for more, as are we, so it is going to be a good battle this weekend and a great test for us.
On the team's chemistry after losing three games
If anything, I think it has brought us together more. The guys are upbeat. I know we all have beleif in one another and now it is just a matter of us going on the field and making sure we do our work whether it is a Tuesday training or a Saturday game.
Some past teams that I have been on and some other guys around the league, when things start going bad that is when people can start throwing eachother under the bus and that hasn't happened here at all. We realize that as a group we need to be better. It is not about individuals but about us, collectively, coming together and being better on the weekend.