At today's training session the Portland Timbers started to prepare for their match against Chivas USA this Saturday. Practicing at the team's Beaverton training facility, the Timbers held a closed session after going through their usual warmups.
When training had concluded, we had the chance to catch up with Will Johnson, who played in his first match since picking up an avulsion fracture to his should against Real Salt Lake last month.
After the game it just felt good to be back in the rhythm [of being] one of the fit players. Like I said, mentally and physically it's grinding just being injured, so just to be back in the rhythm it is a relief to be healthy.
Looking forward to the Timbers' match against Chivas USA on Saturday, Johnson made it clear that the team is not looking past this weekend.
Its a big game. Every game down the stretch here is important, but this one is tricky. They are much improved. I think any time you add a Carlos Bocanegra-type caliber player to your team it is going to shore it up, especially in the back a little bit. It presents a good challenge for us, but we are ready.
Although Chivas has been the league whipping boy so far in 2013, they have gone 3-1-1 in their last five home games, presenting the Timbers with a stiffer test than anticipated for most of the season. With the Timbers facing a string of difficult home games to close out the season, Johnson did not discount the importance of picking up a win this weekend.
Every game for us now is more important than the last one, so that is the mentality. We have got to go on the road and get points. It's important, a very important game for us, so it's one that we are excited about, a good opportunity for us.
Injuries and Absences
The Timbers's Jamaican contingent were all back in town today after returning from the weekend's World Cup Qualifying matches. Alvas Powell, who picked up an ankle knock last Friday in Jamaica's 0-0 tie to Panama, looked fully fit in the early stages of today's practice, taking part in the warmups and staying with the team as practice was closed to the press. Ryan Johnson, who did not play in either game, and Donovan Ricketts, who served a suspension for yellow card accumulation on Tuesday, both looked to be in good health.
Diego Valeri, who has been working through an adductor strain suffered in the Timbers 4-2 loss to Real Salt Lake a week and a half ago, warmed up with the team and stayed with them as practice was closed as well. On Monday and Tuesday Valeri did not practice with the team.
Jack Jewsbury was on the sidelines of practice today wearing running shoes. Jewsbury is rehabbing his ankle after suffering a sprain to it just over a month ago.
Frederic Piquionne, who is also coming back from an ankle injury, was not sighted on the pitch at today's training session. Piquionne's ankle has kept him out of practice, except for several warmup sessions, since the Timbers played the Vancouver Whitecaps at the beginning of August.
Mikael Silvestre continued his recent trend of doing some jogging around the pitch as the rest of the team went through their warmups this morning. Silvestre is now five months into his rehab for a torn ACL.
Brent Richards and Steven Evans were on the sidelines atpractice today, riding excessive bikes. Richards is making his way back from a torn ACL that he suffered in late February, while Evans is dealing with a sprained ankle that he picked up playing against the Real Salt Lake reserves last weekend.