The Timbers held a closed training session at Jeld-Wen field today, the first time the team have practiced in the stadium in three weeks. Practice today was more in line with the season norm rather than the training camp atmosphere on display over the break.
The Timbers were back close to full strength today with only Steven Smith, Eric Brunner, and Rodney Wallace out of practice. Smith, who returns from getting married today, should be at practice tomorrow, giving him three practices to get back up to speed with the team before Sunday's Cascadia Cup match against the Sounders.
Brunner and Wallace are each recovering from injury. The concussion that Brunner suffered before the break is still holding him out of practice as he has not yet been cleared by the league. According to coach John Spencer, Brunner is still suffering from headaches and concussion-like symptoms. Wallace suffered an ankle sprain while on international duty and, although the team was hoping to have him train today according to Spencer, he was still in some pain was was not able to practice.
More training notes plus quotes from John Spencer and Troy Perkins after the jump.
There was very little going on after practice with most members of both the first team and the reserves undergoing a regeneration day. Darlington Nagbe and Kalif Alhassan were among the only players still active on the field when the press were brought back out. They spent their time playing immediate forward passes when receiving a back pass (let's hope that takes) followed by shooting drills from distance. The keepers, with the exception of Troy Perkins, were also still on the field, working with medicine balls.
Update: Something I forgot to mention: Troy Perkins went without his scrum cap at practice today, although he appeared to be doing a regen workout like amny of the pther guys on the team. He mentioned after practice that he was waiting on a new one specially designed for soccer goalies.
On the loss to the LA Galaxy
I think that in the first half we played well. We gave up a couple of easy chances in the first couple of minutes but I think that once we settled down we started passing the ball well and created a couple of chances for ourselves. I think that we were unlucky not to get a goal with the one that comes off the goalkeeper's face, the Danny Mwanga one we didn't see a penalty given.
The first half we controlled the flow of the game, the second half we were a different team. I think the old quote of "a game of two halves" was certainly the case. I'm dissapointed that we never came out the second half and jumped on them a little bit better with more intensity.
Eventually you get done by a set piece from the best free kick taker, dead ball taker, in the last twenty years of the game. You can't give up chances like that.
On if the play against LA was a step in the right direction
I say it on a daily basis, you see the quality. I said to the guys this morning, we've got to have that belief in ourselves and there is no doubt about it, the team need to show more confidence in thier ability, individually and collectively, when they are on the field.
It is a big week for us. Seattle coming here is a huge game and you can't let your head get down for too long because the place is going to be jumping, its going to be packed out, and the fans are going to be demanding a good performance and a win.
On if the Cascadia Cup match against Seattle has some added pressure on the team
I don't think it adds more pressure. I think that in this environment were are always under pressure to produce at home. I think it is a great environment to play in and a great environment to coach in and an even better environment when you are winning games. When we step on the field we have got to show confidence in ourselves, show the confidence that the coaching staff have in these players to produce at this level, but as I said on Sunday, we can't keep talking about this guy has the potential to do this or we have to potential to do that. Potential doesn't win you games, performances do.
I just think that if they get a little bit of belief in themselves... I see the quality on a daily basis, but you can't be a good training player and not turn up game day. I would rather it was the other way when you didn't play well in training but in a game I could count on you. For us, this week is all about doing the things we know we can do in training and trying to bring that to the game.
On the difficulty of putting training sessions into practice in a game
We spoke about it from day one that we were going to build a young, athletic team that we could carry for a number of years and with that philosophy you get inconsistent performances. That is why they say a player is at his peak of his career it is generally between 28 and 32, because they have done everything in the game, they have seen the game, they know what their body is all about and their mindset, mentally and physically, and they know the demands of the game.
We have got young players. That was the plan from day one, to go out and build a young team that we could carry for four, five, or six years and have long term success rather than having a group of experienced guys that could have one or two years together then you are rebuilding again. That is what you get. You get inconsistency from young players but we definitely feel that our young players have got quality.
On Danny Mwanga's performance alongside Kris Boyd
I tought he did well. I think they linked up well, especially in the first half. He is another on that hasn't played a lot of football in the last couple of weeks. He was out of the team in Philly and it is important that you try to get these guys as match fit as you possibly can as quick as you can and all you can do is get them to work hard in training, do a lot of finishing exercizes, a lot of combination finishing together and hopefully they strike up a partnership, but you can't forget that Mike Fucito is in there as well, so we have got a good little group there that we can change up if we need.
On the decision to take out Kris Boyd
The decision is my decision and I stand by it. He has been back from eight or ten days getting married when he wasn't training with the team. He was doing running on his own and trying to keep himself as close to game fitness as you can but there is nothing like training with your team every day and the intensity here you cannot replicate that in the gym or on your own. We got to a certain time, that 60 or 65 minutes, that we just felt that it was time to put Mike Fucito in and get some fresh legs in there.
On Eric Brunner
He still has got concussion-like symptoms. He is still getting headaches, so we are just following the league's protocol with concussions.
On Rodney Wallace
They are saying that he has got an ankle sprain. We were hoping to get him on the training field today but he was still feeling a little bit of pain in there. He get that with his national team. That is the great thing about going to the national teams is you experience of playing against dfifferent players in different environments, but you get the chance of picking up injuries and that is what he's done, that is the downside of it. He's come back injured.
More to come later from John Spencer about Mike Fucito and Seattle.
On his early save after which he took off his mask
I actually took the ball straight off the nose and it shattered the mask so it did its job. It probably would have given me a pretty bloody nose, to be fair. It is still sensitive. It worked. If I didn't have it it would have been bad, I think.
On not wearing protective headgear in practice today
I am waiting to find another one. There is a company that is making one specifically for goal keepers and I am waiting for that to come out on the market.
On how well the Timbers transferred what they were working on in practice to the game against LA
Honestly, with no goals you can't say that we hit it. I would say that there was times that we did and times that we didn't. It didn't come to fruition for us. It is a little unlucky to conceed and not score: we should have scored in the first half and it just keeps going downhill, I guess.
On how the loss to LA has affected the team's spirits
It is tough. I'm not going to pull any punches. It is tough losing like that. It is tough, the situation that we are in. At the end of the day, you can't blame anyone other than the person you see in the mirror. That is the one guy that can get you out of it as well. We all have got to dig deep and fight through it.
On what he could have done better on the LA goal
I don't know. I've watched it a few times. I still play the ball, still try to make it back and make the save and an inch more close to me and that ball hits me in the kneecap instead of the side of the knee or maybe if it doesn't bounce up so high it goes out, so who knows? A lot of things could have happened differently.
On the timing of the Seattle game coming up next
I think that it is a great time. It is a perfect time to change everything and I can't think of a better way to do it than against that team. They are coming off a big loss to Montreal and yeah, we lost, but it wasn't a 4-1 loss. We have got a lot of positives going on and guys are in good spirits so it is a perfect weekend for us.
On if players dislike specific teams
Yeah. I think some of us have more connection with that hatred, or that dislike, than others, but there are a lot of players that have certain teams that they don't like.
On if Seattle is a team that he doesn't like
They are probably top two for me. Since they came into the league, even their first year in the league when I wasn't here I just didn't like them. Their fans are fantastic, don't get me wrong, but there is just something about them I just don't like.
On the atmosphere for Sunday's game
I expect nothing but to go beyond what we saw last year.
On what the team needs to do to beat the Sounders
That's a million dollar question right there. For me, personally, it is just doing my job. There are so many things on the table right now that we could sit here and start trying to fix or start trying to worry about. At the end of the day, it is not my job to do. If I start doing that it takes away from my game, so for me and the goal keepers it is just doing our jobs day in and day out.
On how beating Seattle could affect the team
It could be not only a turning point for us but it could get a lot of people back on our side and change the atmosphere that we are experiencing right now.