The Portland Timbers held a closed practice session at the team's Beaverton training facility today ahead of their impending trip to Colorado where they will take on the Colorado Rapids this Saturday.
After practice, Will Johnson talked about hitting the road for the first time this year.
I think we all enjoy getting on the road, getting away, and getting into an environment where we are not liked. Sometimes it is kind of fun. It is a nice feeling because you get to stick with your guys, your teammates, and go in and fight a battle in a hostile environment. I think as competitors we embrace that.
Johnson confirmed that the rivalry between Real Salt Lake and the Rapids no longer holds sway over him, one year removed from his arrival in Portland. Rather, with the tight race for every playoff spot, the teams he gets up for are somewhat more wide spread.
To be honest with you, its everybody in the West. With the way the playoffs are set up, these Western Conference games are so important that no team other than [the Seattle Sounders] or [Vancouver Whitecaps]... Those are the teams that you are fighting for a playoff spot, which is what everybody is focused on even at this early stage in the season.
Now in his seventh year in the West, Johnson is well prepared for another year of away games.
I do think that if you keep a group together and you have been to these environments and you know what the stadium is like, you know the routine, I call it the MLS circuit. Once you have been around the circuit a few times you know exactly where you are going, there are less surprises, and I think it makes everybody a little more comfortable.
Injuries and Absences
Pa Modou Kah was back in training for the second day in a row this week. Kah missed the last week of practice and the Timbers' Sunday match against the Chicago Fire as he recovered from a hamstring injury.
Norberto Paparatto was not in training today, instead working on the sidelines with a trainer after suffering a slight groin strain on Sunday. Paparatto played yesterday after being cleared by the Timbers' medical staff, but was still feeling some soreness today. The Timbers will continue to evaluate Paparatto and will determine if he will be able to travel with the team tomorrow.
Kalif Alhassan, Steven Evans, and Rodney Wallace were all on the sidelines as well as they continue to work their way back from injury.