The Portland Timbers held their first practice after the team's tough 1-1 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday to close out the Rose City Invitational, which they came away from with an 0-1-2 record (and a record of 2-1-4 overall this preseason). With the weather transitioning between overcast and sunny, the Timbers focused on recovery and fitness for last weekend's starters in a short session while the rest of the team stayed on the pitch much later for a more intense practice.
The team mixed things up today during their warm up, focusing on passing drills rather than the more common agility work. The Timbers then ran an obstacle course that saw the players dribble and pass through a series of rings, cones, and dummies before ending with a shot on goal.
From there the weekend's starters broke off to work separately as they focused on their recovery from Saturday's match. After running through some passing drills with a strong fitness component, the starters headed indoors for a gym session after approximately forty minutes of practice. Caleb Porter, speaking to the press after practice, promised a longer time on the pitch for the group tomorrow, but emphasized the need to complete a proper recovery just two days removed from playing a game.
The rest of the team played a short field match of five on five plus one, with Steve Zakuani always joining whichever team was on the attack.
Injuries and Absences
Steve Zakuani took part in the full practice today, even playing in the second team's short field game. Although he was not exactly getting stuck-in, Zakuani did not shy away from a challenge, looking fully up the the physicality of the match.
Steven Evans joined the team for their warm ups today, taking part in the passing drills before heading indoors as the team started the obstacle course.
Rodney Wallace was back on the sidelines today as he continues rehabbing his knee with the training staff. Wallace did a number of strength and stability exercises before heading indoors to continue his workout.
Alvas Powell was still with the Jamaican National Team today as they prepare to take on St. Lucia in an international friendly this Wednesday. Powell played 85' in Jamaica's 2-0 win over Barbados yesterday.
Trialists and Guest Players
Joe Wheelwright, a keeper for the Timbers' U-18s, joined the team today to provide an extra body in goal while Donovan Ricketts takes part in the starter's recovery day.
- Joe Wheelwright made some very strong saves when inserted into the goal at the end of the obstacle course today. Although it was not the optimal conditions to show off his positioning or distribution, the aerial side of Wheelwright's game is certainly there.
- Having had only limited time on the pitch for practice so far this year, Zakuani looked surprisingly in sync with his teammates, particularly Michael Nanchoff. The pair's penchant for quick, tight passes helped oven up the field in the short field game and lead directly to several good opportunities.
- Although it was had to get a feel for his speed on the short pitch, it was clear that Zakuani's confidence in his ability to beat people on the dribble is undiminished. Showing off his step overs at every opportunity, Zakuani was able to go at and get past defenders with some regularity today.
- The second team's short sided game featured a great number of balls slipped just inside the far post for a goal, most of them from Kalif Alhassan, but George Fochive was the only player to score with a real bullet of a shot, ripping one right into the upper ninety of the goal when given space in the center of the pitch.
- In the final seconds of the short field game, Kalif got in on goal with only Wheelwright ahead of him. As he pulled the trigger though, Futty Danso arrived on the scene to block away Kalif's shot. The ball fell to Kalif's feet and, with Wheelwright scrambling to recover his footing, only Futty was between him and the goal. Kalif faked pushing the ball to his left, pulled the ball back to create space for himself, and slotted his shot home to the right, leaving Futty pounding the turf in frustration.