The Timbers held a short, closed practice today at Jeld-Wen Field this morning in front of a swarm of local and national media. The team started things off with the usual warm-ups before breaking into groups of defenders and attackers for a large game of keep away. At the other end if the pitch the keepers did their usual independent workout before using an interesting setup with a tarp blocking the keeper's view to practice defending screened free kicks.
When practice was reopened to the press the Timbers starters had headed indoors and the reserves were playing a game of seven on seven with coaches Amos Magee and Sean McAuley getting in on the action.
Of the players no longer on the pitch at the end of practice the biggest surprise had to be Dylan Tucker-Gangnes's absence in addition to . Although Caleb Porter has refused to confirm that Silvestre and AJB are the starting center back pairing, they have been the presumed choices for the role this week.
In the post-practice press scrum, Porter talked briefly about the qualities that Silvestre and AJB bring to the team. Porter praised Silvestre's experience and ability to read the game, as well as his ability to start the attack. When talking about Jean-Baptiste, Porter praised his athletic abilities and ability to manage the back line.
After giving his assessment of the two players and their fit together, Porter followed up his statements by saying, "I'm not telling you who we are starting, obviously. There are other guys that are perhaps there as well."
The Timbers are looking like they will play the same 4-3-3 (or 4-2-3-1, depending on who you ask) that we saw with some regularity in the preseason. The biggest question mark right now appears to be the centerbacks as DTG appears to still be in the running, but in the end I think Porter has to go with the veteran Silvestre to partner up with AJB.
My predicted line up:
Donovan Ricketts; Ryan Miller, , Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Michael Harrington; Diego Chara, Diego Valeri, Will Johnson; Kalif Alhassan, Ryan Johnson, Darlington Nagbe
Trialists and Guest Players
The Timbers still had non-roster players Kyle Altman and David Meves in camp today.
Injuries and Absences
The Timbers are close to full strength today as Jack Jewsbury, Hanyer Mosquera, and Milos Kocic all continue their return to regular training with the team.
Mosco and Jewsbury were both out on the pitch after training today, taking part in a short field game with the Timbers reserves. Kocic had headed indoor with the rest of the game day eighteen while practice was closed.
David Horst continued to miss practice today as he continues his recovery from a groin strain suffered while the Timbers were in Tucson.
Frederic Piquionne was also not at practice as he goes through the visa process to work in the United States.