The Portland Timbers held their last training session before embarking this afternoon on a five day, two game road trip through Carson and Frisco. Today's per-game preparations necessitated a closed but short practice before the team heads off to the airport this afternoon.
The Timbers' line up was unchanged from yesterday with Eric Brunner, Chris Taylor, and Rodney Wallace all missing practice due to injury, while Jake Gleeson is still abroad with the New Zealand Olympic team.
Brunner, who has been recovering from a concussion, practiced last week but has not been out with the team for the last two days. After practice Gavin Wilkinson confirmed that the team was taking a cautious approach with Brunner, giving him several days to recover form training.
Wallace, who has been struggling to return form a sprained ankle suffered with the Costa Rican national team, was at the practice facility today, although he did not take part in the actual training. Wilkinson confirmed that Wallace would not be traveling with the team but that he was close to being healthy once again.
More Timbers training notes plus quotes from Gavin Wilkinson and Jack Jewsbury after the jump.
The hip surgery that Taylor underwent last week will keep him out for several months, according to Wilkinson, but he is recovering and has responded well to the surgery.
Trialist Salim Arrache was once again with the team today. This time, however, he was sporting the number forty jersey, usually reserved for trialists.
On what the Timbers need to do in order to be successful against Chivas USA
I think that we are at a stage now where we really need the players to get a lot of self belief, especially after conceding a lot of goals against LA. We've worked a lot on our shape and on the organization side of it, so hopefully we don't see the same breakdowns there. It is a matter of improvement as well. Can we get the young players to perform consistently, can we get another good performance out of them on the road?
On Chivas's struggles scoring this season
They are still a good team. They looked to keep the ball against Vancouver. They could have had two or three goals. They created some good passing movements and, to their credit some, some good chances. They had poor finishing. I am sure for them they are saying, it is only a matter of time, these goals are going to come because they are getting in dangerous areas.
On Juan Agudelo
Whether he plays or whether it is [Alejandro Moreno] and [Juan Pablo Angel] up top or whether it is the nineteen year old. [Paolo Cardozo] comes in through the middle, he's effective, but we are still interested to see who they are putting out as the starting line up. They haven't scored a lot of goals but they are still above us on the table.
On what line up changes will be made
It is always possible. I am not going to give you the exact line up changes but we have got Diego Chara who is available for line up selection and we've got Franck Songo'o that is available and will be in the squad, so there is a couple of key players for us that could help us and should help us.
On going 517 minutes without a road goal
This is a team where we need to get points from Chivas and I am more interested in the way that we are playing and the purpose which we play with. The result is what matters, but with us right now, with what we are trying to do, I want to see a positive performance and with positive performances, if you do it often enough, we will have positive results.
I have taken a lot of positives out of the LA game and most of those were going forward, all of those were going forward, and see if we can build on those. It has been a while since we scored three goals as well, but as I said, there is no point in scoring three goals if you concede five, so it is important we keep a clean sheet, it is important we stay consolidated at the back while still allowing those that have the tendencies to venture forward to maximize their chances.
On if that 517 minutes is something only the media worry about
To me it is an objective to be overcome. I see it as something that we need to solve. It is a stat, I look at stats all the time.Analytics play a big part in games, I think, so for me it is have we deserved to score? I would say, we haven't looked like it the last couple of road games so let's solve that first and hopefully you create enough chances and you start to get goals. For me it is just the lack of chances that we have created on the road, that is the biggest concern.
On how important confidence is on the road
Huge, but there is only one way to get that confidence and that is by working a little bit harder, in my mind.
On how having two road games in a row affects the team
I think that we are positive. I think there is enough belief, it is just a matter of when the going gets tough is that belief still there? Will they dig a little bit deeper? I hope so. They are good people, you want them to be successful and on the road we have had just patches of players that have performed. Even the other night against LA you could say that by and large, everybody apart from the back four did their job and maybe the back four didn't plus one or two others. On the road we have had one or two people do well and a lot of people underachieve, but we are going to try and change that. That is not me criticizing the players, it is just an observation.
On the one p.m. start time for tomorrow's game
It's strange, isn't it? It is really strange, completely out the window. We are traveling this afternoon. We will get in a bit of a jog and a stretch this evening, have a team dinner, and then get into it tomorrow morning. It is more like a training time rather than a game time. One p.m. will feel a little different, but that's no excuse. It is like that for both teams.
On making the team feel at home when playing on the road
We should actually feel a little but freer on the road. The environment at home is one that there's expectations, and rightfully so that is how the game should be, but on the road you would expect players to run a little bit more, you would expect them to fight a little bit harder and rally around one another, so we try to create more of a group, more of an emphasis on working for one another. Still winning individual battles, but also making up for somebody else's mistakes and seeing if we can rally around one another a little bit more, because that is what we've really got to rely on on the road.
On Eric Brunner
(Joking) He's a complete wimp.
He is doing well, actually. We are just be very cautious in our approach with Eric. He is a good player for us and the last thing we want to do is put him back in a situation that is negative for him and negative for the club. There is a lot of caution around concussions at the moment, so we are taking it very slowly. We are bringing him back, giving him a break, bringing him back, giving him a break just to make sure that he is over all the symptoms.
On Rodney Wallace
Rodney Wallace is not going on this trip, but when we get back he will be joining in with the team. There is no point with him traveling with us right now because of where he is at physically, so we are going to wait.
On Chris Taylor
He'll be out for the next couple of months, but the recovery went well. He's doing well. It was important for him that we got it done now so that he could recover in time for preseason next year.
On having two road games in a row
I think that we will be away from home for five or six days so it is a good opportunity for guys to continue to bond with one another and to get some good results and if you do that on the road then there is that confidence among your group that you can bring home.
First thing's first, we have got Chivas to deal with. They are a tough team but at the end of the day I think we feel confident in certain aspects of what we did against the Galaxy. Obviously giving up way too many chances, but we realize that possession, with the heat, is going to be a big issue and if we can continue to do that going forward hopefully we can continue scoring some goals.
On if playing two games on the road affects the team's mentality
No, I think that is to be expected. Throughout the year you are going to have some of these longer road trips and I think it is the way to make the most of them. Like I said, there are still guys that are getting used to each other on and off the field and I think it is a great chance to build that camaraderie within the group.
On what the team needs to do to get a full performance form every player
Games are going to come, guys are going to have their ups and downs throughout the year. I think it just comes down to individual battles. We've talked a lot about that in recent weeks and if the majority of guys on the field are winning individual battles the likely result with end up with three points, so that is what we are looking to do.
Guys are going to have a off game here and there. You just want to create that consistency among the group.
On what individual battles he is looking forward to against Chivas
For myself and Diego, Nick LaBrocca is one of the guys that makes them tick. They have got some dangerous guys that like to keep the ball and he is definitely one of them, running out of the midfield. I think that is going to be a key match up for us: keeping him under wraps and not letting him create too much in the midfield for them.