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Portland Timbers Training Quotes and Notes: Defenders? What Defenders?

The Portland Timbers kicked off the week's training with only 22 of the team's 30 roster-listed players on the pitch after a weekend of hard work and injuries.

William Conwell

The Timbers held a light recovery practice this morning at the team's Adidas training facility in Beaverton, bouncing back from the weekend's games with some light drills and a short-field game to round things out.

As always the Timbers started things out with some jogging and warmups on the facility's turf field before moving over onto the grass surface. Once on the grass pitch, the team broke up into three groups, rotating through a series of passing drills, games of keep-away, and soccer-tennis. Next up the Timbers divided into two groups, starters and reserves, and played a larger scale game of keep-away, emphasizing quick passes and splitting defenders. Finally, the Timbers played a game of eight on eight on a short field to finish practice.

Caleb Porter addressed the press after practice and talked about the team's approach to training after winning their first game of the season.

Keep your highs low and your lows high. Win, lose, or draw, let's learn from it. Take the positive with the negative and evaluate it, reflect on it, and then file it away and then get back to training.

As far as what positives he took away from the match, Porter was quick to praise the team's defensive improvement up and down the pitch.

My biggest positive, everybody wants to talk about the attacking side and the possession, but for me the biggest positive is our defending. We got a clean sheet, we pressed very well, and we fought hard. For me, the most encouraging thing that this team continues to show is our fight and the right mentality... If we are pressing well, we will attack well.

Practice Notes

  • During the team's games of keep-away, Caleb Porter used a phrase that stuck with me when he was describing the aim of the drill: "the joy of possession".
  • In those games of keep away Michael Nanchoff, Ben Zemanski, and Frederic Piquionne all played with the starters.
  • When the first team got into a flow while passing the ball around it was a thing of beauty. Kalif Alhassan and Darlington Nagbe had some interplay that was just unreal, including some one-two passes that might have given me whiplash if they occurred around me.
  • In the short-field game Kalif was, once again, extremely impressive. He had a few lazy passes that could have been better placed, but it was clear that he was the most influential play on the pitch today. He even fired in a few well placed goals (although he did also put one overly ambitious volley into the far parking lot).
  • Rodney Wallace and Darlington Nagbe were also flying high during the short-field game, something that was most in evidence during a six-pass buildup that resulted in a tap-in goal from Ryan Johnson and a bout of impressed muttering from the assembled press. Six passes may not sound like much when compared to the twenty pass buildup that lead to the Timbers' first goal on Saturday, but with eighteen players on less than half a pitch it was pretty fantastic.

Injuries and Absences

Diego Valeri did not practice today after getting elbowed in the head during Saturday's match against the Houston Dynamo. Valeri is going through the league's recovery protocol, something that has been seriously enforced over the last two years. Caleb Porter refused to speculate on a return date for Valeri, but did say that "he feels good. He wants to train. He is ready to train. There is no hangover effect from it, but we have to follow the protocol."

David Horst was out of practice today as well after undergoing surgery to repair a displaced tibial plateau fracture, also suffered while playing against the Dynamo.

The surprise absences from this morning's practice were Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Mikael Silvestre, the Timbers' centerback pairing for most of Saturday's game. According to Porter, however, both players were just suffering from "heavy legs" and had a scheduled gym-day as a part of their recovery process.

Sal Zizzo, Bright Dike, and Brent Richards all did not practice today after undergoing their assorted knee surgeries earlier in the season. Zizzo is the closest to returning to training and could be in practice any day now given Porter's statement last week that Zizzo was a week or two away.

Hanyer Mosquera, who has been on a leave of absence from the team for several weeks now, continued his time in Colombia. Mosquera is rumored to be joining a team in Colombia and, according to rumors on twitter (@ChaviDelgado via @BobKellett), has agreed to mutually terminate his contract with the Timbers.

Trialists and Guest Players

The only non-roster player with the team today was the now long-serving guest player, David Meves.