Practice was closed early today as the team prepares for what is traditionally the biggest match of the season. Speaking after practice, Ryan Miller told the press that it was clear how important the rivalry against Seattle is to the Portland fans.
It doesn't have to be stated. [Jack Jewsbury] spoke a little bit just now about what we have to do and how we need to go up there with confidence and know that it is going to be a battle for ninety minutes. I think we all realize that, we know that, and it should be fun. I think that everybody who is new going into it is maybe even more excited because it is our first experience.
When asked how he keeps from getting too hyped up for the match, Miller joked that he would "listen to some jazz music before the game."
The clash between the Timbers and Sounders is Major League Soccer's most heated rivalry and the intensity on display during this morning's warm-ups s a testimony to that. There was little of the usual joking around for the Timbers as they did their agility drills before practice was closed.
Miller did say that the players, only two games into the season, were still working to improve their positioning and knowledge of each others tendencies in practice this week.
You are always trying to work on communication, but at the same time, when you are playing with the Timbers Army at your back, cheering the whole game, it is tough to communicate anything. It is more about reading what other players are doing and getting used to certain guys movements and tendencies.
Trialists and Guest Players
Kyle Altman continued his trial with the Timbers today, making it look likely that he will be a part of Sunday's reserve league game in Seattle.
David Meves also continued his time with the Timbers today. Meves was characterized by the Timbers' staff as training with the team and not considered a trialist.
Guest player Anders Vest Hansen is still with the team as well, training with the Timbers during his spring break from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Injuries and Absences
David Horst continued to miss practice today after being out since February with an ongoing groin strain issue. Horst has been training by himself after recent practices have concluded with trainer Nik Wald and continued to do so today. Horst could return to practice early next week.
Brent Richards, Bright Dike, and Sal Zizzo all remain out with long term knee injuries.