Hours before heading south to take on Chivas USA, the Portland Timbers held a closed practice at their Beaverton training facility this morning. With a number of players returning from injuries, suspensions, and national team duty this week, the Timbers practice was looking full before being shut after the warmups.
Caleb Porter talked about the choices he is faced with at the top of the formation today. Talking about Jose Adolfo Valencia's starting chances, Porter had this to say:
He did well last game, had two assists, created a lot, but we have a lot of other good players as well. He could start, but we also have Ryan Johnson back and we also just signed Maxi Urruti, Piquionne is not available, so it will be one of those guys to start the game.
The other big question for Porter in the attack is Diego Valeri and how he will factor into this game.
If Valeri is healthy he is in there, but we need to be smart because we have got this game that we want to win, we expect to win, we need to win. It's not mathematically a must win, but we're approaching it in a way where three points is what we are going there for. If we do win there then we are developing some momentum and we're starting to put some distance between, hopefully, us and those teams that are hovering around that red line. We'd like to get away from that red line, so if we can get on a little run here this is a great opportunity to go in there and do that.
Porter is looking beyond just tomorrow's match against Chivas when he talk's about Valeri's prospects for playing time.
We've got to be smart, because I don't want to go and play Valeri and play him 90' and chew him up and we get three points then he's out the next game. I want Valeri to be able to be able to play 90' multiple games and I think he's close to being able to do that because we've managed him the right way. We need to still continue to be smart with him.
Injuries and Absences
For the second day in a row Diego Valeri warmed up with the team and stayed out on the pitch as practice was closed to the press. According to Caleb Porter, Valeri is still not 100% but will be available. Porter went on to say that Valeri may start, but if he does not he will come off the bench.
Alvas Powell, who returned from his time with the Jamaican National Team yesterday, was once again fully involved in the team warmups and stayed on the field as practice closed despite an ankle knock suffered last Friday in Jamaica's match against Panama. After practice, Porter mentioned that Powell's ankle was still sore and that the team would need to be careful with him.
Jack Jewsbury, Brent Richards, and Steven Evans all were riding exercise bikes on the sidelines of practice today. Jewsbury is recovering from an ankle strain, as is Evans, while Richards is still rehabbing a torn ACL that he picked up in the preseason.
Frederic Piquionne, who has been out of practice since the start of August with an ankle strain, was doing some jogging and exercises on the sidelines of practice today.