The Portland Timbers held a split training session today at Providence Park as the starters from yesterday's 1-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes went through a recovery workout, while the rest of the team prepared for Wednesday's match against Portmore United.
After the usual full-team warm ups, the Timbers' first team went indoors to continue their recovery day, while the rest of the team stayed on the pitch to work under the direction Sean McAuley and Caleb Porter. The split portion of the practice started off with a series of races, pitting two man teams in skill trials before sending them on a sprint.
The team's then switched to one of their usual possession games with two groups of five facing off on a small field and the trio of McAuley, Steve Zakuani, and Diego Valeri helping to distribute the ball and making the drill an eight on five.
Up next was a half field game with the defense trying to clear the ball while the offense tried to score. Again, Valeri was in the middle, adding an extra man to whichever team had possession at the time. Finally, the Timbers wrapped up practice by playing a short field game of six on five, with Valeri always on the attack.
Injuries and Absences
Will Johnson was absent from training today with the same flu-like symptoms that kept him out of yesterday's match. According to Porter, Johnson was running a fever of 101 degrees over the last few days. The Timbers have yet to give an estimate on how long Johnson will be out, but commenter Steezknocker has heard that it could be another week or more before he is back in training.
Zakuani took part in the first 40' minutes of training today, the most that he has done with the team to date. Porter called him "a week or so away" and said that he was "probably not quite ready" to take part in either of the remaining games in the Rose City Invitational.
Valeri, who has now participated in three full practices this season, will probably be kept out of Wednesday's match, Porter said. The team will instead concentrate on getting Valeri on the same page as the rest of the usual starters for Saturday's match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Rodney Wallace and Steven Evans continued their training on the sidelines with trainer Nik Wald as both return from off-season surgeries.
Trialists and Guest Players
In addition to training keeper Justin Luthy, the Timbers had an extra keeper on hand today to give them a third with Donovan Ricketts doing his recovery exercises. No word was available on the identity of the extra keeper.
- During the races early in practice, Steve Zakuani and Michael Nanchoff were killing the competition as they came in first almost every time. They did lose out on the final race of the day thanks to a single bad touch.
- Diego Valeri looked sharp in practice today, particularly in the 6 on 5 short field game, where he was by far the match's high scorer (always being on the attack helps).
- Valeri's scoring efforts were aided by Schillo Tshuma who, whenever they were on the same side, drew defenders away from Valeri and gave him ample room to shoot.
- The first goals of the short field game were scored by Valeri and Tshuma and both involved getting in one on one with Andrew Weber and sending him the wrong direction before tucking the ball into the back of the net.
- Alvas Powell really has some flair to go along with his ridiculous speed. In the short field game he regularly busted out his bag of tricks, including several well played back heel passes.