The Portland Timbers held a closed training session today at Providence Park as they gear up for the season opener this Saturday against the Philadelphia Union. The team worked through the day's rain and gusting wind before heading indoors for a gym session.
After practice, Will Johnson and Michael Harrington spoke to the press about the upcoming match. Both players were very positive about the team's prospects for Saturday's game, with Harrginton neatly wrapping up the team's feeling on the matter, "We are excited to play some games that matter and start collecting some points here."
Johnson went into more depth on his expectations for the weekend:
We want to put down a marker and let everybody know that wasn't just a one year program where we did well and things worked for us and we went on a run. It is time to become an elite team in Major League Soccer and for that you have to perform year after year, so getting off to a good start is obviously a positive thing for us. We want to win our first game and every game that we play in front of our fans. There is one acceptable result and that is three points.
Harrington also went a little deeper on the defensive side of things, elaborating on what the Timbers' want to accomplish after putting together such a strong defensive showing in 2013.
We are even trying to get better and improve on what we did last season. We had fifteen shutouts last year and we want to hit that mark again, if not go further.
Injuries and Absences
Steven Evans, Schillo Tshuma, and Rodney Wallace were all on the sidelines today during the warm-up portion of practice. Evans and Wallace have both been recovering from off-season surgeries, but this was Tshuma's first day out of the team warm-up. There has been no word yet on his status.
Alvas Powell continued his absence from practice today as he travels back to Portland from his time with the Jamaican National Team. Powell started at centerback for the Reggae Boyz in last night's 5-0 win over St. Lucia.
Aaron Long was not at practice today (and was apparently gone at the start of the week) as he has gone on loan to Sacramento FC along with Jake Gleeson and Bryan Gallego. Gleeson and Long both Sacramento's 2-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes in a preseason friendly last night.