The Portland Timbers kicked off their week of practice today leading in to the team's three week run of home games that start with this Saturday's match against DC United. Working at the team's Beaverton training facility, the Timbers opened practice to the press for the first time in weeks.
The session itself was a short one, wrapping up the work on the field after an hour. The bulk of practice was spent playing several possession games, with a larger eight on eight plus two match providing the bulk of the action.
From there the Timbers broke into two groups, one consisting of the defenders and the other of the midfielders and forwards. The defenders went through a series of passing drills before working on defending crosses being sent into the box. At the other end of the pitch, the rest of the team worked drills that involved a series of short, quick passes into the box and finished with a centering pass or cross for a shot on goal.
Injuries and Absences
Diego Valeri was not on the field for today's training session. According to Caleb Porter, Valeri has been feeling sore for the last several games and the team gave him the day off to recover. Valeri is expected to be back and available for this weekend's match against DC.
Pa Modou Kah was also absent from practice. Kah is the latest Timber to miss time with a hamstring issue, according to Porter, who said that the team was being careful with the defender.
Steve Zakuani and Darlington Nagbe were both fully involved in practice today. Zakuani has been recovering from a tight hamstring for several weeks, while Nagbe was taken out of the match against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday after his usual collection of fouls caused him to come up lame toward the end of the game.
Steven Evans, who has been back in practice for the last few weeks following offseason back surgery, was on the sidelines working with a trainer today.
Rodney Wallace continued his recovery from offseason ACL surgery today, working with a trainer on the sidelines for the majority of practice and remaining on the pitch afterward to practice his crosses and do a series of sprints.
During the finishing drills toward the end of practice, Gaston Fernandez finished a low pass with a beautifully taken rabona. The ball was passed to him at the penalty spot, coming from the left flank, and he hit the crossed-kick first time, directly into the upper corner of the net.
Rodney Wallace was not the only player still working after practice wrapped up: Aaron Long, Schillo Tshuma, and Jorge Villafana all ran extra sprints under the direction of one of the team's trainers after practice had wrapped up.
After practice Michael Harrington also practiced sending crosses into the box while the rest of the team was doing some stretching. Evans, Michael Nanchoff, and Tshuma gave him targets in the box.