Today's practice session at the Portland Timbers' Beaverton training facility was a short one, with the team getting off the pitch after just over an hour of practice. Today's practice was the team's last before flying off to Houston in preparation for this weekend's road game against the Dynamo.
Evaluating the match against the Dynamo after practice, Caleb Porter acknowledged that Houston have been struggling as well.
"They haven't been winning either, so I think you are going to have two teams that are wounded, fighting for their lives," said Porter. "Even though they haven't been winning they are a good team... We expect a difficult game. They have got a good coach and good players. Like us, they will turn it around, we just hope they don't turn it around starting with us."
Porter gave some insight into Houston's recent injuries and suspensions as well, giving his run down of who the Timbers expect to face on Sunday.
"I think there will be a couple of moves that they make. They have been pretty much starting the same line-up for the last two games. You'll see [Kofi Sarkodie] in for sure, maybe [Brad Davis], and maybe Omar Cummings... Ricardo Clark, not sure what is going on there, he came out of the game and he is a key player for them."
Davis has been the Dynamo's attacking engine since 2005 when they were still the original San Jose Earthquakes, and Porter pointed out the qualities that he brings to the Dynamo when on the pitch.
"He brings another possession player, a creator. He is kind of their No. 10. They play their system differently with a 4-4-2, so some of their creative players start wide. That is the role that he has played where he is more of a left guy that comes in and is able to be a creative player for them. I think they are missing that a bit; also set-pieces as well, he is very good in those moments; and his leadership and his experience, they miss that as well," Porter said of the two-time MLS Cup winner.
Injuries and Absences
Steve Zakuani will travel with the team in hopes that he will be cleared to play by Sunday, according to Porter, although the team has not yet decided if he will be available.
Rodney Wallace was again on the pitch after the rest of the team had headed indoors, continuing his recovery from offseason knee surgery. Today, Wallace practiced his crosses into the box from the left wing and did some juggling on the field under the guidance of a trainer.
There was no news on Frederic Piquionne today, although it was impossible to tell if he was at practice or not. Porter said on Tuesday that he would likely be in Martinique for the rest of the week.