The Portland Timbers held their first training session of the week at the team's Beaverton training facility this morning. In addition to the usual gaggle of press at practice, there was a group of season ticket holders on hand to watch practice as well as a small group of college coaches taking in the proceedings on the sidelines.
Today's training session was a long one as the Timbers made use of the rest they had gotten over the rare weekend off to focus in on the team's strengths, a point of emphasis for the week according to Caleb Porter. Training started off with a quick series of warmup exercises before breaking out into groups for some increasingly intricate passing drills, followed by games of keep away, and finally a short field game of 8v8.
In each drill the coaches emphasized quick passing and decisions for the attacking team and immediate pressing for the defenders. During one larger game of keep away in which teams scored a point for each eight passes strung together, Porter took a moment to point out to the losing team that they had had eight points scored on them, and that the winners had made them chase the ball for over 64 passes.
In the post-practice press scrum, Caleb Porter had a chance to talk about how the team had been doing this year.
I think we have seen, throughout the 22 games, playing every single team except Toronto, that there is no reason that we shouldn't be one of the teams that is in the hunt at the end of the year. That's always been our expectations. We've not come out and announced that to the public, but privately we have been talking about being one of the better teams in the league this year every single day; not just talking about it, but you've seen it. We've been one of the better teams this year and so we are going to continue to believe that and continue to take the field hoping that we can win.
Porter also talked about the expectations for the team.
I think we always had high expectations, which is why we are in the position that we are in. I never, going into the year, talked about it being a two or three year project. I don't look at it that way. I want it now and I think that is a big reason why we are doing as well as we are.
Injuries and Absences
Will Johnson did not practice with the team today after picking up a bad shoulder knock against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday.
Frederic Piquionne was again not at practice after picking up an injury in the Timbers' last league game against Vancouver. Piquionne tweeted last week that he hoped to be back for this weekend's game against FC Dallas.
Jack Jewsbury and Sal Zizzo both warmed up with the team before breaking off to go work out under the direction of John Cone. Both players are recovering from ankle injuries.
Brent Richards warmed up with the team for the first time since his knee injury back in February.
David Horst and Bright Dike also warmed up with the team as they come back from their early season knee injuries as well. Dike took part in all of practice except the short field game at the end, while Horst went and worked out separately after warmups.