The Portland Timbers kicked off a week of preparation for the Rose City Invitational today as they practiced at Providence Park. With the newly renamed stadium's signs going up outside the stadium and intermittent showers soaking the players on the pitch, the team put in an intense practice before heading indoors for a gym session afterward.
Training started off with the usual mix of warm-up exercises before switching over to a series of passing drills that saw the team playing a series of passes that culminated in a through ball to a player running off the back shoulder of a defender. Each passing drill saw this sort of emphasis on breaking defensive lines and, as the passing drills became bigger and used the whole field, the emphasis began to include stretching the opponent's defense and creating imbalances to exploit.
Injuries and Absences
Diego Valeri and Steve Zakuani were once again a part of the team warm up, after which they broke off to work with a trainer on the sidelines. On Friday, Caleb Porter addressed the pair's injuries, say that both were progressing but that he would not be able to promise that they would be ready to play at the start of the season.
Futty Danso was also on the sidelines, but did not participate in the team warm up. Futty, Valeri, and Zakuani did a number of stability exercises at one end of the pitch before spending the remainder of practice dribbling a ball in a circuit around the outside of the pitch, including going through several agility drills.
Rodney Wallace, Steven Evans, and Bryan Gallego were all working with a trainer on the pitch as well. After going through the same stability exercises, all three went indoors to finish off their workouts.
Jake Gleeson, who went missing for the end of Friday's practice, was on the pitch and involved today, looking like nothing was amiss.
Trialists and Guest Players
Justin Luthy continued his time with the team today, however, now that he has graduated from "trialist" to "practice player" (like David Meves last season) we can stop mentioning him barring his absence.
Aaron Long and George Fochive were the only other players still in with the team and not currently under contract with the Timbers. Both players received praise from Porter on Friday.
- After playing primarily as a defensive or box-to-box midfielder while with the team in Tucson, Long played primarily out wide on the right wing today, allowing George Fochive and Ben Zemanski to partner up in the center of the pitch with the team's second group.
- Early on in the Timbers' passing drills, as most of the team was still trying to get their legs beneath them, Darlington Nagbe was already showing off his remarkably soft touch, corralling even the most errant passes with ease.
- As the passing drills opened up and became more and more complex Michael Nanchoff could be heard directing traffic on the pitch from his #10 spot with the second group.
- Jorge Villafana, making overlapping runs from the second group's left-back position, sent in a number of well-placed crosses today. While many players just pump a cross into the box, Villafana appears to be crossing to a player in the box.
- During the somewhat chaotic ten on ten possession game that came toward the end of practice, Maximiliano Urruti was a ball-winning terror, easily dispossessing Rauwshan McKenzie and Taylor Peay as they tried to move the ball across the back line.
- Will Johnson' passing, which he seemed to struggle with during several of the team's matches in Tucson, was spot on throughout today's practice. Whether playing long switches or short passes along the ground, Johnson had his passes landing just where he wanted them.