Today's practice was a closed session at the Timbers' Beaverton training facility and focused on mixing up line ups and seeing how different players fit into the squad. After the usual warm ups and games of keep away practice was closed, however, when the press were let back on to the pitch, the Timbers were in the middle of a full field, full sided game primarily featuring reserve players but with some of the starters taking part as well.
Several players, including Jack Jewsbury, Daivd Horst, and Hanyer Mosquera, were no longer on the field at the end of practice, something that Wilkinson said was a precaution for Saturday's game. Several players were playing out of their usual positions as well, either to fill in or to be evaluated there. Kosuke Kimura, on the blue team, and Rodney Wallace, on the white team, both played in the center of the pitch as defensive midfielders. Ian Hogg and Cam Vickers manned the left and right wing positions for the blue team, while trialist Mobi Fehr and, surprisingly, Brent Richards played as the blue team's fullbacks.
USA U-20 pool player Mobi Fehr is still with the team and we got to see him in action for a few minutes today. Fehr played at left back in today's scrimmaging and combined well with Ian Hogg, who was lined as a wide midfielder. Big looking for a seventeen year old, Fehr did not seem to have any problem keeping up with the pace of play or physicality of the game, although things were somewhat dialed down as it was just an inter-squad scrimmage.
Cam Vickers is still with the team and also took part in today's scrimmage. Unfortunately, Vickers did not see much of the ball as his team's attacks were mostly coming down the right side of the pitch through Hogg and Fehr. He did have on nice move while I was watching to create space around Steven Smith and get a cross in, but it was just off target.
Also with the team was Timbers U-16 Keeper Joe Wheelwright. With both Jake Gleeson and Donovan Ricketts making their way back from injuries, Wheelwright provided cover between the posts for the Timbers. Although much of the action was at his end of the pitch during today's scrimmage, Wheelwright was not called on to make any saves.
Injuries and Absences
Kris Boyd and Lovel Palmer were not on the pitch at practice for the second day in a row. Both picked up injuries against San Jose during the Timbers recent road trip. Gavin Wilkinson confirmed that Boyd's season was over after suffering an adductor strain that will take over a month to heal. Boyd was spotted on the sidelines of training taking in the team's scrimmage.
Diego Chara, David Horst, and Freddy Braun all warmed up with the team before heading inside to work with the team's trainers. Chara and Horst both were being held out of practice as a precaution according to Wilkinson. Chara is coming back from an adductor strain suffered against the Seattle Sounders and could be ready to play as early as this weekend against DC United.
The Timbers' goalkeepers Jake Gleeson and Donovan Ricketts both practiced today as well. Ricketts did not to any work with his hands but ran with the team and helped with the shooting on the rest of the team's keeper corps. Gleeson was active today, getting in the goal early in practice and making a number of saves, before having to step out due to his hand causing him too much pain.
On last week's road trip
In San Jose I thought we fought well. I think we stuck to our game plan and in the second half it was a different game completely. They started to throw number forward and as a team you have got a decision to make: do you drop back, do you accommodate those players and turn it into a little bit of a fight, or do you still try and press?
Being that we were a little bit tired on the road and we defended well in the first half we wanted to keep our shape. We ended up sitting back a lot more and that was the nature of the game and a reflection of them throwing more and more men forward. I think we have to deal with it and we managed the game out okay.
I think that based on what we went into halftime with and what happened early in the second half we are unlucky not to come out with more, but I think a point in San Jose is a decent point. I think it was well earned.
When you go into Salt Lake and you have more of the ball than Salt Lake you have done something right, but ultimately the result is what matters and on a different day or a different year maybe Nick Rimando doesn't make that phenomenal save off Rodney Wallace and Bright Dike's header hits the underside of the crossbar and goes in.
I think that the boys did well. I think that some of the adjustments that were made at halftime worked and ultimately I think that the guys did work extremely hard and they played good football.
On if the level of play on the road has improved
I think that as you start to look over the season and you have seven teen games on the road, a good number of points to pick up on the road is seventeen. That is the ambition for next season and that is what you have got to look at, in all honesty. If we had had those performances on the road it would have been a lot better.
We had a couple miserable performances on the road, but you start to look at San Jose, look at Salt Lake, and they are decent performances. We are going to Seattle and Vancouver at the end of the year and we have something to prove.
On the team's final road games being Cascadia Cup matches
There is a lot of pressure, obviously, but in the Cascadia games it is a different focus. Maybe that will help. The focus isn't basically to win on the road, it is to beat Seattle and beat Vancouver. It is a different mentality, it really is. I know that may sound very strange, but going into Seattle and Vancouver, derby games, traveling fans, knowing the importance of the games, I am sure the guys will be up for it.
On David Horst
We are just sitting him out of training. It's just precautionary.
On Jose Adolfo Valencia
Jose Valencia is doing better and better in training.
On the team's goalkeeping situation
Jake Gleeson and Donovan Ricketts are progressing very well and would be available for this weekend if needed. It is just trying to balance out the next couple of games as well which are very important. [Joe Bendik] has done a decent job as well, so it is also about managing individual players.
On Kris Boyd
He is done for the season with his injury.
On Diego Chara
Diego has trained very well. It is just a decision, do we risk him this weekend and put him back in the line up, or do we save him until Seattle? We will be able to make a better decision on that one Thursday or Friday.
On trialist Mobi Fehr
Good young player. Bringing him in to have a look at him. He is only seventeen years of age. We are looking at the second half of the roster just to see if he is better than what we have got on that. We are going to start to bring more trialists in over the rest of the season as well.
He has been with a club and what I understand from talking to his agent is that he'd be free to leave that club.
On his recovery from injury
I am doing alright. It feels good to be back into the first team and training again. I feel good.
On playing for a spot on the team next year
No matter what, nobody's spot is ever for sure and permanent. Everybody is fighting for a spot, no matter who you are. You can see throughout the season there have been changes all over the line up that nobody probably would have expected.
Every day is a fight and for me coming back into the first team training, I am still at the same spot that I was before. All I can do is get fit, play better, communicate with my back line, and show that I should be on the first team and if I am not rewarded with first team games I am just going to keep working hard and looking to next season.
Disclaimer: I am a big video game nerd, so I really just wanted to talk about the new FIFA with AJB. Prepare yourself.
On FIFA 13
I think it is a little bit too much that they are trying to make it a little but more realistic with bad touches and stuff, but I have always been a FIFA fan and I am always going to play it and be the best at it because nobody is ever going to beat me, unless they get a cheap goal. I am welcoming any challengers on that. It is a great game. Hopefully one day I can get on the cover like Messi.
On if everybody on the team plays FIFA
You would be surprised how many soccer players don't actually play FIFA. After they get a good, hard training playign football every day they kind of just want to go back and relax on the soccer, but I can't get enough of it. I am always either playing the game or here training myself, so whenever I get the chance I am either watching soccer, playing FIFA, or training myself, training hard. I can't get enough of it. Soccer is my life.
On if he plays as the Timbers
I've done it a couple times. I still don't start myself. There's times I start myself or I don't. Everybody is like, do you like playing with your own character in FIFA? Yeah, it is cool and all, but I try not to dwell on that too much, because I am still a rookie so I don't dwell on playing with my own character. It is a great feeling, seeing myself in the game, because not many players can ever say that. It's not something easy to achieve.
On if seeing himself in the game is a strange experience
It looks nothing like me. I am a whole lot cuter than that. I am not making a big deal out of it. As my name gets bigger throughout my career, obviously they are going to work more on the details of how my face should look and my characteristics, so I'm not getting all angry over that stuff. I just appreciate it.