Bright Dike practiced with the Timbers today in what could be his final appearance with the team in 2012. Word from practice is that Dike will go on a season long load to the LA Blues of the USL Pro division as was rumored on twitter yesterday. Dike will still take up a spot on the Timbers roster and will be able to be recalled to the team if necessary. After not getting on the field yet this year and eventually being pushed out of the eighteen by homegrown player Brent Richards, Dike will likely be given an opportunity to start for theBlues who find themselves with only four points from their first four games.
Today's training session at Jeld-Wen was open to the press. The Timbers did their usual warm-ups before breaking in to a series of half-field 9v9 games. With 29 players in attendance, only Steve Purdy was missing from practice, thanks to his concussion. Kalif Alhassan took part in the team warm-ups then broke off to continue jogging around the field when the team moved on to the games of 9v9. Troy Perkins also broke off to work by himself, running the steps in between sections 105 and 106.
More training notes plus quotes from John Spencer, Steven Smith, and Sal Zizzo after the jump.
- Bright Dike despite his upcoming loan spell Dike put in the work at practice today, going hard after every ball just like he has every day this year.
- Dike Dike'd Eric Brunner early on in practice, landing on the defender after the two got entangled going up for a header in front of goal. Luckily, Brunner was back up and playing again after a moment.
- Dike also scored the first goal of the practice with a little flick on through traffic in the box.
- Jorge Perlaza scored a number of times in practice, putting in the work to get on the end of several poacher's chances.
- Kris Boyd, meanwhile, was finishing like he did on Saturday: just a little bit off. As training went on his frustration with himself was very visible. Once practice concluded he stayed out on the pitch to shoot on an open net where he found much more success.
- Although Darlington Nagbe and Franck Songo'o had their moments, both Freddie Braun and Brent Richards exhibited some great footwork in tight quarters to create space and get off a shot today.
- John Spencer did a lot of yelling at players about taking their chances and shooting when they get the opportunity today.
- After practice a number of players were sitting or lying on the field, enjoying the weather.
On Saturday's game against the Columbus Crew
I have the same feeling as I did after the game, we had enough chances to win the game.
On the Timbers lack of goals in recent games
You can't make guys score goals. All you can do it try to create opportunities and when you get them, score. Plain and simple. It's not an Excel spreadsheet that you're looking at it's a game of soccer.
It's plain and simple, if you score more goals than the opposition then you will win games.
On what the Timbers need to work on before the Houston game next week
I just think that we are creating chances, we've got to score goals. It's plain and simple. You create chances in the box, you create opportunities, you score goals. I think that we are creating some decent looks and, as I said, the forwards need to put the ball in to the back of the net. Whoever gets on the end of something: score a goal.
On if the team was creating more scoring chances than in previous games
I think that is plain to see. I think it was better service. I think there were opportunities where we were getting in there. I still don't think we're creating as much as we should with the opportunities we were getting with a free chance to serve the ball into the box still hitting the first defender too much for my liking. As I say, it's not all down to the service. I think we are getting them good looks and we've got to make sure we're hitting the target.
On Darlington Nagbe playing up top
I like him playing up there. I think as a forward you have many jobs you have to do. You've got to work hard defensively. You've got to work to keep the ball, which I think he does extremely well; he probably does that better than anybody in the club. With his back to the goal he probably keeps possession ninety or ninety-five percent of the time.
He keeps ahold of the ball, but to be a forward you've got to do that and also you've got score goals on a regular basis. That is one of the demands and that is why strikers get paid a lot of money. It is a highly pressurized position and more times than not the ball the ball ends up at your feet in the box and you've got to be able to score goals. We've got to do that on more of a consistent basis among all of the forwards.
On Jorge Perlaza
He can only get a chance to score if he is getting on the field and right now he's not getting on the field so we can't criticize him for that. He falls under the same catagory as everybody. Anybody that the ball falls to in the box: make sure you score a goal or make sure you make the goalkeeper work, plain and simple. When you get an opportunity, take it with both hands.
On the longer than usual break between games
We train as normal and just try to get the same message over to them that we've tried to portray to them for the last fifteen or sixteen months: develop good habits, train well, look after your body away from the stadium and when you're here be ready to work.
On Jack Jewsbury's play at right back
I think that for the first forty-five minutes he was feeling his way into that position. I thought in the second half he gave us good feet on the ball. He was a presence back there and he always wants the ball. He's comfortable in possession. I thought he did well for us in his first game back there in a number of years.
On transitioning from midfield to right back
I think right back and left back is probably the easiest position to play in the game. Most teams in the modern game don't play with natural wingers anyway, they have wide midfield players that will come inside and play and most fo the game is forced down the middle now. For me, I think it is one of the easiest positions to play if you've got half a brain.
(Andy requested that I ask the following question. Here you go, Andy.)
On his approach to free kicks
Seriously? My approach to free kicks is if you get an opportunity to hit the target, hit the target. Plain and simple.
On the amount of traveling he has been doing
It has been pretty tough, pretty long. I flew from, just after the game, I flew to the UK and got my visa sorted then flew straight back out. It's been long but it will be worth it in the end.
On the opportunity to play with the Timbers
This is a great opportunity for me. In the last club I was at, the club in England, the manager who signed me left after three or four months. They brought in a new manager and a new coach so, that was an opportunity that came up and it is one that I am glad that I've taken.
On talking to Kris Boyd about the Timbers
I talked to him and he couldn't praise the place and the city enough and he told me about the atmosphere here and what it is like on match nights and stuff. I didn't need much convincing anyway but what he said pretty much helped.
On his impression of Major League Soccer before coming to Portland
When I spoke to Kris he told me that the standard was good and that the training was good and the matches were tough. It's a new challenge for me and it's a new chapter in my career.
On the crowd on Saturday night
I was actually at the game, the one against Kansas City here as well, so I knew what to expect. I mean, the fans were incredible. Even back home you don't get atmospheres like that, especially at home games. It is something special and something that will drive the players on to get victories.
On his impression of Portland so far
It's a good city. I've not seen a lot of it, I've been training and traveling to games and stuff, but from what I've seen it looks like a great city with great people.
On the turf in Montreal
The surface is always the same for both teams. I think we've said we didn't really play as well as we should have and they ended up getting the victory, but as I say, its about how you bounce back and we'll be looking to move forward and win more games now.
On getting the start against the Impact
To be honest with you, it was a surprise to me because I thought I was flying home on the tuesday and then they told me that I could saty and play because I didn't need the visa, so it was pretty much all rushed and I was just glad to play and to last ninety minutes after not playing for six or seven weeks. It was a good thing for me.
On what John Spencer has told him about his role on the team
We've not actually spoken about it. I came over, I trained for a few weeks, and he wanted to see what my fitness was like. We've done that and I think we'll chat more about that in the future and when I play more games we'll see what I've got to offer then we'll take it from there.
On his injuries suffered early in his career that kept him from playing for over a year
It wasn't just one specific injury, it was two or three niggling injuries and it took a lot longer to heal than it possibly should have, but, as I say, that's in the past and I'm looking to the future. I've been fit and strong enough for the last four years, so I'm just ready to play and am looking forward to the matches coming up. I've seen people all over the world. The last person I've seen in Germany, I had an operation and have been in touch with and I've not had a problem in [my hip]. As I say, I am just looking to the future and not looking behind me.
I'm 100%. That was four or five years ago, the last issue I had in the pelvic area, so that's not a worry for me. I'm just looking to the future and looking forward to playing as many games as I can.
On missing most of two seasons
It was tough. I can't lie, it was a tough experience but I think I've grown stronger as a person during it. During the bad times, that's when you find out a lot about yourself and it's tough when you've been out for two years, it's tough to come back and play at the level that I did. I put a lot of hard work in and I'm looking forward to keeping my fitness up and playing in games.
On his experience with the Scottish national team
I've been called up to the under 21's, b-team and stuff. I've been called up to the national squad but I didn't play through injury, so it is probably one of those things that I will look back on that game and with it never happened, but you can't dwell on these things and you've got to move forward.
On his relationship with Kris Boyd
I was at Rangers before he actually signed, so I played against him a lot on the youth teams and, growing up, when he came to Rangers we played for four or five years together, so we know each other pretty well. Kris, if you give him service he'll get you goals. That's what he's always done. He's done that everywhere he's been. Even when people said he was going through a bad patch in England he still scored twelve goals in twenty games. If you give him the right service he'll get you goals, that's one thing he'll do.
On his passes to Boyd in the Montreal game
I think that when you play with someone for that long you know their movements and people in this squad will get used to where Kris wants the ball and where you need to put it for him to score, which is usually in the box. If you get the ball in the box, he will score goals. That's a fact.
On his living arrangements
I've got an apartment now, so I'm just looking to get settled and get my family over and just get basically into the run of things pretty smoothly. I don't think [Kris Boyd] would want me living with him for too long so it will be good to get my own place and get settled in.
On his level of comfort with the team given the Scottish influence
It's strange but I've settled in pretty well. Not just with the Scottish people but with the rest of the squad have made em welcome and I've enjoyed every minute since I've been here.
On his relationship with John Spencer
I'd never met him. I'd never spoken to him. I just knew who he was through his playing days and I knew that he was over here. I'd never spoken to him before actually coming over and training during the weeks I was here for.
On his return to the first team
I feel ready. Obviously the coaching staff feel the same way. I don't think they would take a player if they didn't feel that I could play. The game kind of went a certain way around the seventieth minute. Maybe when the coach starts making subs we started putting pressure. I don't think he wanted to change things then when we could have gotten a goal. I feel ready and I'm ready to go.
On getting time with the reserve team
When you come back from an ACL tear you are going to need games to get fit. I had four games, none of them ninety minutes, but the last game in Vancouver was just kind of a precaution; I feel like I could have gone ninety.
Sometimes you just have to deal with what the schedule gives you. We have that month currently between the last game we played and the game we have on the 27th and Valencia is on the 23rd. You have to deal with how it is. That's just the schedule. You've got to take the practices one hundred percent and play like those are the games. There was a couple of practices last week, and I hope to continue that,where I felt like I was back to my old self: making runs in behind and things like that.
On playing without a knee brace
It feels great. Four weeks ago, I would say, was probably the last time I felt like, 'Oh, I don't want to go too hard right there,' or something like that, but I've taken off even the little sleeve. I've just felt kind of in control of everything and I'm able to slide if I have to and make that quick cut if I have to and not really think twice.
On if he is 100%
Yeah, I'm close to it. Obviously there is still the soccer side of the game that you have to get back and MLS is a fast game so you have to, when you get in, just make the best of it.