Practice was closed again for the first half hour today before the press was allowed out to the pitch. After yesterday's sunny weather, the wind and clouds made for a chilly day up in the stands, but the players stayed active and played at a high tempo throughout. The fitness on display immediately after returning from the off-season is impressive and will be important for Caleb Porter's high pressure style.
The biggest change from day one was the addition of defender Mikael Silvestre, 35, formerly of Manchester United and Arsenal, on trial. According to Porter, the team brought in Silvestre on trial as an experienced option at centerback. Although Silvestre has played all across the back line and in the midfield during his career, the common opinion around the internet seems to be that he has lost a step in recent years.
In practice Silvestre was not the most energetic of players, but he often seemed to be in the right place at the right time to win the ball. He also showed of a little but of guile from time to time, sending a defender the wrong way before passing or picking the pocket of an inattentive forward. There were certainly times when he was clearly not on the same page as everyone else, but overall he did not look out of place.
Today's practice was focused around several variations on keep away and short field games. The team was split up into three groups with the keepers, young players, and older players/starters each playing separately before coming back together for a series of half field games. Included in the group of older players and potential starters was Andrew Jean-Baptiste, who looks early on like he could be pressing for a spot in the 18.
Aside from Silvestre, the Timbers also had fullback Michael Nanchoff, keeper Jason Dodson, and draftee centerback Dylan Tucker-Gangnes (apparently it is pronounced gang [like a biker gang] ness [like the loch]) at training today.
Nanchoff, who was at practice yesterday, is trialing with the team after being cut by the Vancouver Whitecaps. A left sided midfielder and fullback, Nanchoff played for Caleb Porter at Akron.
Joining the contingent of former Timbers U23's players playing with the first team are Dodson and Tucker-Gangnes.
Injuries and Absences
Kris Boyd and Franck Songo'o were both still out of camp as both are in discussions with the team over their status.
Rodney Wallace is with the Costa Rican national team at the Copa Sudamericana and is not expected to rejoin the team until they leave for Tuscon this weekend.
Hanyer Mosquera was at practice today, but he spent most of the time on the sidelines riding an exercise bike before heading inside. Mosco participated fully in practice yesterday.
Practice Notes and Impressions
- Eric Alexander continued doing what he did yesterday, dribbling and passing well. Other than a tricky half-volley during the half field games, he did not have any highlight reel moments, but he never seemed to put a foot wrong while I was watching him.
- Ryan Johnson impressed once again as he chipped in several goals and showed off some impressive strength by repeatedly holding David Horst off of the ball.
- Andrew Jean-Baptiste had several well timed and precise sliding tackles on the day as he continues his push to be in the conversation for game day selection.
- Sebastian Rincon caught my eye repeatedly in practice with a number of slick dribbling moves and several well put together back heel passes. In addition to his flashy moves, Rincon really looks like he came to work this year and seems to be very focused and determined in practice.
- Darlington Nagbe had several occasions to show off his ridiculous acceleration today using it to good effect to catch defenders off guard. In one instance today, Nagbe went from standing still to rounding Jake Gleeson and slipping the ball around a recovering defender in the blink of an eye.
Today's quotes are going to have to wait, as I am already running late for work. Tomorrow's practice will be an afternoon session, so I will try to get some quotes from Caleb Porter, Darlington Nagbe, Bright Dike, and Dylan Tucker-Gangnes up for your perusal in the morning.