At the Timbers training today out at their new practice facility (more on that later today), several injured players continued to work their way back to fitness. Joe Bendik, Jake Gleeson, David Horst, and Futty Danso all made the pitch and participated in warm-ups before practice was closed to the press.
After only doing hand drills at practice earlier in the week, both Bendik and Gleeson were much more involved in today's training. Both players were diving during warm-ups alongside Troy Perkins and MLS pool keeper Brian Rowe. After practice was reopened, Gleeson was still on the pitch working away while Bendik had already headed inside.
Not practicing were Rodney Wallace, Kalif Alhassan, and James Marcelin, all of whom took in the beginning of practice from the side-lines before heading inside to continue their rehabilitation in the new facility's treatment center and gym.
More training notes plus quotes from John Spencer, Troy Perkins, Gavin Wilkinson, and Merritt Paulson after the jump.
Trialists Steven Smith and Andreas Dober were both still with the team as their trials run through the end of the week, but with practice closed there was no new information to be had on the pair.
After practice, most of the team remained on the field. Youngsters Sebastian Rincon and Andrew Jean-Baptiste squared off in front of goal with Kris Boyd sending passes in. Rincon proved a handful for Jean-Baptiste, using his large frame and quickness to get free and receive the ball.
There were a lot of quotes about the new training facility, which I will include in a write up of the new facility later today.
On Saturday's game against Sporting Kansas City
They beat us home and away last year and they've beaten everybody home and away this year, so they are a really good team. We know that they are very physical and have a lot of big, strong athletes on the team and they play to their strengths. C.J. Sapong causes a lot of problems. Kai Kamara, who I know really well from my time in Houston, causes problems. They're good athletes. They care about winning and losing. [Peter Vermes] has built a good team there with a good mentality and we're going to have to be up for the game big time and be up for the physical battles this weekend, because if we're not we're going to be a victim the same as other teams this year.
On Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis's comment that he did not expect Sporting Kansas City's level of physicality
They're winning games. They play to win, plain and simple. If you can't handle them and you're going to gripe about it afterwards that is Jason's problem. They play to win. I would love to be sitting at 7-0 right now and have people complaining about the way that we're playing. Good team, good coach, doing their jobs.
On the team's current position
All of us are a little bit shocked and stunned, but as I said to the group before, nobody feels sorry for you. Everybody is happy that you are where you are and it is only us that can get ourselves out of it.
On being the underdog
I don't see where we never became the underdog. Last year as well. We were a new team last year. We're a year and a half-old now, so I don't see why anybody would think that we are definitely favorites to win games.
On maintaining the team's confidence during a losing streak
You've got to come out of it sometime. I keep saying it time and time again to you guys, to the players, we have the quality here. Our confidence has taken a bit of a bashing. We've been battered pillar to post in the media in certain cases, you know, and there comes a time when players have to stand up, us as coaches have got to stand up, and say enough is enough and get back to winning games.
On if Sporting Kansas City's winning streak adds extra motivation to win
Of course it does. I think that when people used to say last year when they were coming to Jeld-Wen, we want to be the first to win there, it gives teams a lift. For us, they are in their position because they are a good team. They are winning games because they are a good team and it is up to us to be a good team this weekend and try to knock them off their perch. It is not just about ending their winning streak. We've got to get back to winning games and start to get some points and climb that table.
On making changes to the way the team prepares for games
I think that we try to prepare as best we can week in and week out. I think that when you start to change things up too much then it looks like we're getting desperate and I don't think that we're at that desperation stage right now. I think that as we start to get guys back healthy now, David Horst and [Futty Danso] are getting on the field on a regular basis, the more we can keep guys healthy the better it will be for the group.
On the state of the team
We're okay. Obviously it's tough. You start doubting yourself, but at the end of the day you've just got to turn around and say, I'm here for a reason. It is no different if it happened in the middle of the season than if it happens now, so keep calm, come out, and let's do what we do.
On getting beaten by "unblockable" shots
I'm going to disagree with you. I think they are savable and I can save them. I think I've just got to be better. They are good finishes, but there's chances and, obviously, I've got to make myself better to perform better for the team.
On getting frustrated with the defense
I think everyone is frustrated, not just the guys in front of me. It is from number 1 all the way up to number 90 right now. We're all frustrated by how things are going and we can only look to each other and ourselves to get ourselves out of it.
On Sporting Kansas City
It is a very physical, tough, high intensity game for them. They had a bit of a fist fight there, it was a street fight for them in that game in Vancouver last night, but they are on a roll and for us it is a good chance to come and prove ourselves.
On Sporting Kansas City creating turnovers in the attacking third
We just have to be smarter. We don't need to change anything. We have to be more intelligent with how we're going to play and we have to be more aware of the situation.
On the team's current form
It's a disappointing start. It's disappointing for me, it's disappointing for the coaches. It is also six games in to a 34 game season. I think the Seattle Sounders start in 2010 was probably a disappointing start for them in their second year. They ended up winning the US Open Cup and they ended up as a playoff team. It was probably a disappointing start for Kansas City last year when they got off to the start that they did. They ended up going to the eastern conference finals and just missed the MLS Cup.
We've clearly been public with our aspirations for this team and our expectations for this team. When things don't go well in this sport everbody wants to paint it as a lot worse than it is. That is the nature of sports. The media and fans want to do that and when things are going well they often think you are better than you are, too. I'm just going to let the team talk for itself.
We've got some things we need to fix on our end. We've also had a lot of bad luck. I'm not going to point fingers to bad calls or injuries or that kind of stuff. Clearly, When it comes it comes. This is a sport that moves in cycles. If we get our bad play out of the way early, that is fine with me. I would rather be playing well late.
On taking steps forward as an organization
It is a process. There is a vision in place and there has been a vision in place. This is not going to be a "react" type of administration. We've had from the beginning a young, athletic team that was going to push the ball forward, that was going to grow with time, which was going to play a certain style, and that is the blueprint. That is something that we are sticking to and it is a long term plan. We may have to tweak some things and some pieces in that mosaic over time, but we're not going to wildly get off that blueprint. There is a plan in place and that plan will breed success over time. I am one hundred percent convinced of that. There's bigger and better things coming and this has been a process which as been personified and characterized by growth and it is going to continue to do that.
On the possible use of instant replay after Kris Boyd's second goal was called offside against the Los Angeles Galaxy
Juniniho's goal wasn't a goal either, in hindsight, but if you get caught up in that stuff you give power to it. There is all kinds of things that we could have done that we didn't do and, frankly, LA had a lot more shots on goal than we did in that game and controlled the second half. Does that make a big difference if they correctly call Kris Boyd's goal, which was a spectacular goal? You better [explitive deleted] believe it does, but the fact of the matter is that's tough. I watched that thing about fifteen times.
At the end of the day, it's not the refs.It just isn't the refs. Refs aren't letting goals in late in the games, so that stuff adds up but... You look in the mirror and you figure out how you can do more. Every one of our players, our coaches, us, that is the way you change your luck. When you start winning, winning breeds winning. This is a sport that is as personified by cycles as any sport that I have seen, and I have been a fan of a lot of sports. A lot of teams get hot and they get cold, but in soccer more than anything, every team goes through a tough spell over the course of the season. We're having ours at the front end.
On the season so far
Results. It is all about results. I think that in professional sports, winning is the be all and end all. We've done great things on and off the field but we need to finish games off and we need to be tougher, mentally, and we need to work a little bit harder toward the end of games. I think John and the coaching staff have addressed that. They've looked at everything possible and it is a matter of continuing to do everything that we believe is right.
I think that if you take the last ten minutes out of each of the last games you've got five points and we would have been unhappy with that. Now we're sitting in a situation where we've lost four game in a row and are devestated about those results, to be honest, and this is a chance this weekend, against a very good team, to turn that around. We went through a similar period last year where there were a lot of things that we thought weren't going our way and we decided that instead of looking for excuses to create our own luck.
On calls going against the Timbers
If you start to look at each of the games there have been key decisions, moments of the games, that I think could have changed it. You had a penalty against Chivas that could have made it 2-0. You had a goal that was called offside that would have made it 2-0 against LA, which is different from 1-0, mentally, but we believe in creating your own luck. The harder you work the luckier you get, so we'll see what happens in the next couple of weeks.