The Portland Timbers held their final practice of the week today at the team's Beaverton training facility before jetting off to Northern California for tomorrow's match against the San Jose Earthquakes. Today's closed session was a short one, wrapping up early on the pitch as the team headed indoors for a gym session.
After practice had wrapped, Caleb Porter talked to the press about the San Jose attack. Chris Wondolowski, holder of the league's single season scoring record, was the first topic of discussion.
Wondo, he is a guy that is dangerous. Last time we played them, we talked about all week managing him, his movement on the box and getting on the end of crosses, and he finds a goal somehow. That is a big thing. They are a team that looks to get service into the box. They are a team that is going to try to hit us on set-pieces, so those are moments that we need to manage well.
Wondo's partner up top will likely be Matias Perez Garcia, a summer signing who has just returned from a knee injury suffered shortly after his arrival in San Jose. Porter broke some of Garcia's key attributes that the Timbers will have to be aware of.
He's a No. 10. He's a playmaker. He is different than when they were playing [Tommy Thompson], who is a striker... He is a good setup guy. He likes to find the ball. He is creative in how he sees the game and how he looks to run at you. He is a good passer. We have to be aware of him.
The inclusion of Garcia will bring some important changes to the Earthquakes style of play in this match, according to Porter.
When they play Wondo and Lenhart it is a two-front, it is two guys that are banging and two guys that are playing higher and they become more direct. I think they are definitely looking to become a little bit more possession oriented and I think he helps them do that.
Porter then expanded on how the Earthquakes like to attack and the options that they have with Garcia on the pitch.
You still have to really be aware of Wondo. He is just smart at getting in good spots to score goals. He just pops up. He is a guy that may not touch the ball for 89' but the ball is in the back of the net if he gets one chance. We can't be so concerned about Perez Garcia that we forget about Wondo.
The other thing is that they are really athletic wide and they like to get their backs forward. They look to get a lot of crosses in because they know that with Wondo if you give him enough service he is going to get a goal. We have to do a good job of defending them wide with our wingers defending their outside backs and our outside backs defending their wingers...
But with Garcia, if you shut down the service, now maybe if they go through the middle he is a guy that can now bring a little bit of a different dimension that they did not have.
Liam Ridgewell also gave his thoughts on the Earthquakes attack, focusing on Wondolowski.
We have got to watch Chris and see what he does. He has good movement, that is the main thing with him. We have got to keep an eye on him and make sure that he doesn't score and make sure that he doesn't score and make sure that we perform better.