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Portland Timbers Training Quotes and Notes: Breaking Down Chivas Edition

The Portland Timbers final practice before facing off against Chivas USA took place at Jeld-Wen Field this morning. Amidst brief patches of sunshine, the Timbers took part in their usual warm-up running and games of keep away before practice was closed to the press.

Hanyer Mosquera again warmed up with the team, but the extent to which he participated in practice is unknown. According the Timbers media relations manager, he may have continued his return with some light heading today to further gauge his recovery. John Spencer, while talking to the press after practice, said that the team is following the proper Major League Soccer procedure after a concussion and it is the concussion he suffered, not the cracked orbital bone, that is preventing Mosquera from fully taking part in practice.

More practice notes, plus quotes from John Spencer, Jack Jewsbury, and Eric Brunner after the jump.

David Horst also continued to take part in the team warm-ups, as he has done for the last two weeks, before heading to the locker room to continue his rehabilitation.

After practice finished and the media were let back on the field, most of the Timbers usual starters were no longer on the pitch. Of note, Jorge Perlaza and Kalif Alhassan, but not Franck Songo'o, were still on the field when the press was let out, while the rest of the starters from last weekend were already off of the pitch.

Alhassan, after seeing limited training for the beginning of this week, did get some extra attention from the trainers at the start of practice today. He will likely be in the 18 against Chivas USA, though. In his after practice remarks, Spencer mentioned that Alhassan would have a role to play.

With Alhassan looking unlikely to start, and Perlaza outside when the rest of last Saturday's starters we already off the field, it seems likely that Nagbe will play up top alongside Kris Boyd and that Songo'o will play on the outside, despite Spencer's comments earlier in the week proclaiming Songo'o not 90 minute fit.


John Spencer

On Kalif Alhassan

He'll be involved in some part of the match tomorrow, for sure.

On Hanyer Mosquera

He looked fine running around the field. We still have to follow the protocol. It is not the fracture in his eye that is hold him back, it is the league's protocol of concussions, so we have to be very careful. We need to go through the process with him and then he'll go through certain stages and then he'll eventually get cleared to play, but I think that if he didn't have a concussion he would be available to play.

On the need to make a strong start against Chivas USA

We've spoken about a lot of things, not just closing out games. I think it is important that we get off to a good start because they are going to be very difficult to break down defensively, especially if they go a goal up. I've seen that on the tape when they played against [Real Salt Lake]. Even when the game was tied 0-0 they were still not giving away many chances. They're very stingy when it comes to giving up goals and giving up chances, so it is important that we do get off to a good start. It is very important that we get the first goal for the first time this year and put teams on the back foot rather than us chasing the game.

On Chivas USA's game plan

They might have watched the game tape against Salt Lake and think, you know what, they have got weaknesses that they see in our team. They might not come and play a 4-5-1 defensively. They might come and say, you know what, we're going to attack them. They don't stop giving up goals or they don't stop giving up chances, so that's just taking them for granted or taking them lightly, thinking they will come in here and pack it in. They may not. They may not have that respect for us.

Jack Jewsbury

On breaking down Chivas USA's defense

I think that defensively they have been stingy this year. I'm not sure how they'll come in, but we have to be ready in case they come in and play a 4-5-1 one and sit in and make it tough to break them down. For us, it is a matter of getting the ball forward and if, defensively, we can turn them over in their own end and create chances off of that, that will definitely help. We have got a number of guys that, offensively, can break them down. I think we will get the chances, it is just a matter of finishing them when we get them.

I think you need to just kind of read the game once it comes. Depending on how they approach it, if they do sit in or if they come after us. We're not exactly sure how that will play out, but when we do get into that final third, we need to be calm and continue to keep the ball, possess it in there. Then, when the opportunities arise, to make the most of them.

On the importance of set pieces against a strong defensive team

I think that against teams like these that sit, set pieces become key, just as they do in any game, because we can bring out big guys forward who are so dangerous and get on the end of stuff. I hope [Eric Brunner, the Timbers leading scorer against Chivas] is not the leading scorer any more at the end of this one, but at the end of the day, if we can win on a set piece and win 1-0 we will be happy with getting a goal and a shutout.

On the need to make a strong start against Chivas USA

I think that we're looking to get the first goal because, especially with a team that is going to sit in, when they go up on you 1-0 it makes it that much harder to break them down because they will put more and more guys behind the ball. I thought we approached the game last week well for the first 45 even with the [penalty kick]. We had some chances there, not just half chances, some good, good chances to go up and if we can get those again, this time we will finish them.

Eric Brunner

On playing against a defensive team

I think that the first goal will be pretty crucial, that way they'll have to chase the game a little bit and have to spread out to try and push the game.

On the importance of set pieces against a strong defensive team

Regardless of what game it is, I think that all of use are trying to get in there and make it difficult and make difficult situations for their team. The service is good, we're starting to get chances and it is a matter of time before they start sneaking in off set pieces and I think that is another threat that teams will have to worry about.

On not looking past Chivas USA

Obviously, we don't want to get too far behind before the end of the season so I think that every game right now we have come out thinking it is a must win.I think that is the mentality that we need to have when we come to any game. I don't think that any of our games we're coming out to look for a point, I think we're going to try to win them and that is the drive that we have.

On partnering with Andrew Jean-Baptiste in the center of the defense

It's good. He's learning. He's still 19, you have to think about that. He's definitely soaking everything up that I can tell him and I have talked with him about certain situations and he has learned from them. He's definitely getting used to it back there, so it is good. He's played three games at a professional rank, so especially at centerback, which is a tough position to just jump in to and just get the hang of, he has definitely grown.