The Timbers held a closed practice today their Beaverton training facility. With the sun out, spirits seemed high during the team's warm-up as they mixed things up from their usual routine with some rugby-style passing drills. Perhaps predictably, few of the American players knew what fitness coach John Ireland meant by "rugby football passing".
Steven Smith took part in training today after arriving back stateside yesterday from his wedding in Scotland. Missing from practice, however, were Eric Brunner, who is suffering from a concussion, and Rodney Wallace, who sprained his ankle with the Costa Rican national team over the break. Danny Mwanga warmed up with the team but headed inside after the warm-up to work on his recovery from a knock suffered against LA over the weekend.
Although practice was wrapped up by the time the press was let back out, the Timbers keepers were still working after everyone else had headed inside. Taking turns shooting on one another, the keepers each had several excellent saves. Jake Gleeson in particular had an amazing reaction save to deny Joe Bendik. I also looked up from today's interview with Steven Smith to notice Brian Rowe seemed to have lost in a game of "butts up". Luckily for him, Gleeson, Bendik, and Perkins all missed their shots on him by narrow margins.
Quotes from Steven Smith and Jack Jewsbury after the jump.
On if being married feels any different
Not really, no. It is pretty much the same. It was just good to go home becuase it had been organized for a while. The club has done me well by letting me go back for a few of days and then come back and get ready for the game this weekend.
On what he knows about the rivalry with the Seattle Sounders
I'm expecting a tough game, a great atmosphere. They're a tough team and I know that this game means a lot to a lot of people, so we will go into the game looking to win it. I'll approach the game as I always do, as wanting to win the game, but I know that if you win this one it means a lot more to a lot of people.
On if Seattle's match tonight will have an effect on the game Sunday
I don't think so. It wouldn't bother me if I had two games in a week. We've got to prepare and I'm sure they will do the same. They will be just as ready for the game Sunday as if they weren't playing during the week so it is going to be a toughh game no matter what.
On the mood of the team
Well, I've been away but I wouldn't say that I've come back to a cmap that is unhappy. I think there would be more of a prooblem if you weren't playing well and weren't getting the chances, which I think that maybe once one goes in there will be more to follow. I think that is always the case with people that score goals and people that try to create goals; it is a connfidence thing more than anything else. You probably think that once they get one then they will get another one not too long after.
On the Old Firm rivalry that he was a part of with Rangers
That's a massive game. It's known all over the world and I've been fortunate enough to play in a few of them. I've won a few and I've lost a few as well, so I can tell you that in big games, like the one back home and the one this Sunday, it is a much better feeling to be on the winning end than on the losing end so we will be looking to go and win the game.
On what he has heard about the difference in playing Seattle and Vancouver
All they've said is about the atmosphere around here. Every game has been incredible, so I don't really know how you can top that but they said it is a special game and it's something that I amlooking forward to. These are the games that, as a player, you want to play in and I will be looking forward to it.
On his level of fitness after being away from the team
I'm ready to go. I'm ready to play the full ninety. As they say, managers make decisions and coaches make decisions, that is their job, but I am go and I am ready to play the full ninety minutes if need be or ninety plus minutes.
On Sigi Schmid's description of Sounders and Timbers fans as "big brothers vs. nature lovers"
Yeah, you are always going to have that back and forth. After the home game last year coach had some words and everybody got all excited about it, but at theend of the day it is a hug game for both clubs. I think it could be a huge momentum builder for us going into this second half of the season and we are looking forward to it.
On how this game differs from the rest of the season
The reality of it is that I don't think that any of us really realized until we were a part of it last year how big these games are, not only for us as players but for the fans and the organization. Until you step onto the field for those games and you get those goosebumps it is one of those things that is really hard to speak about because there are so many aspects to the game. Whether it is, for us, getting three points and getting ourselves moved up in the standings, or for our fanbase to get them fired up for the rest of the season.
On the frustration of giving up the lead twice at home twice against Seattle last season
It was tough. I think that is something that has been on my mind for quite a while. For us to get those leads and give them up is something that we are not to proud of but at the end of the day we want to continue to press the game, especially here at thome. We want to beat them and get the result against what is a tought team in Seattle.
On the quotes from Sigi Schmid after last year's draw in Seattle
Yeah, it is what it is. I think in those high energy games everyone is wound up even more and if you ask us too many questions right after the game we are still wound up about it. A few hours later we settle down, but that first game there the atmosphere and the emotions that are in the game, [those are] games you want to be involved in as a player. I'm just excited to get out there on Sunday.
On if this is a good opportunity to jump start the Timbers' struggling offense
Guys are going to be flying around the field. It is going to be tight, especially the first fifteen minutes as it normally is against them and we have just got to settle down, continue to create chances, and believe that we have the players, which we do, to get things going in the right direction. I think that if we continue to go forward like we did against LA and create those chances we are going to find the back of the net.
On the Timbers scoring woes
It is one of those things that happens in this sport. Strikers go through those times, and midfielders as well, where everything is going in that they touch, then there is times where you can't hit the frame, so it is what it is. I think the guys have continued to work hard out here to right the ship and we expect that when we get our chances we will finish them.