The Portland Timbers trained today at Jeld-Wen Field in the second, and final, day of preparations for tomorrow's clash against the Colorado Rapids. Going into a match with big playoff implications, the Timbers are finally faced with some difficult choices in the lineup, according to Caleb Porter.
We want to be flying in this game and I would say that for the first time in a while we actually have some tough decisions because we finally have guys healthy and fit. It was the first time I've had, in probably a month or a month and a half, where there are some decisions. Our hand has been forced, kind of, because of some of the injuries. There's no decision. It's the next guy in and there is no choice. Well guys are now back, healthy, which means we have decisions to make and hopefully we'll make the right decisions in this game.
Talking about how he makes those tough decisions, Porter gave us some insight into what he looks at when evaluating his players.
I think you have got to look at past experience and performance. You've got to look at current form, because it may be that current form doesn't match past performance. You have to look at how the group plays with that player. You have to look at how that player is playing individually, what they bring to the table individually. So, there is no exact science. A lot of it is feel. A lot of it is what you see. A lot of it is based on the evidence that you have in training, in the games.
A lot of it also has to do with how does the chemistry of the group feel. Is that player capable of creating for themselves, but also making other players around them better. You could play a guy that perhaps is more dangerous individually, but the rest of the group chemistry is good.
Injuries and Absences
Jack Jewsbury continued his return from an ankle injury that he suffered against the Seattle Sounders almost four weeks ago by warming up with the rest of the team today. Although practice closed before we could see if he took part in the full session, he did tell us that he was in for the whole practice yesterday.
Diego Valeri and Alvas Powell, both of whom are coming off knocks, trained again today. Both players have been back in training for over a week now, and look like good bets to play tomorrow.
Frederic Piquionne made a brief appearance at the beginning of practice and looked like he would join in the team warmups, but quickly doubled back into the lockerroom. Piquionne did rejoin the team on the field before practice was closed and spent his time running laps around the field.
Mikael Silvestre was out on the field again today and was passing the ball around with Milos Kocic before training started. As warmups began, he joined the training staff on the sidelines and had not yet begun any exercises when practice was closed.
Steven Evans, who injured his ankle in the reserves match against Real Salt Lake two weeks ago, was still out of the warmups today. Evans did spend some time on the sidelines with the trainers before starting to do some jogging around the pitch.
Ryan Miller, less than a week after his surgery to insert a metal rod into his leg, was on the sidelines leaning on his crutches and watching practice. Miller spent some time talking to Gavin Wilkinson, who was also present and watching the proceedings.