The Portland Timbers pushed themselves in today's practice at the team's Beaverton training facility. The Timbers emphasized fitness today after going through a closed recovery session on Monday.
Today's training started with a fifteen minute series of warmups before the team broke up into four groups for some short field games of five on five, using small goals and no keepers. After a short but intense match, the Timbers moved to a finishing drill that saw them run through a series of obstacles, receive a pass, dribble, and shoot on goal.
The team repeated these two drills three times each before wrapping up practice around eleven and heading indoors for alternating gym and nutrition sessions.
Injuries and Absences
Diego Valeri and Michael Harrington were both on the sidelines from the start of practice today, riding exercise bikes under the direction of the team's trainers. Valeri was wearing a knee brace for the duration.
Steve Zakuani participated in the day's warmups and finishing drill, but spent the rest of the session on the bikes as well.
After practice, Porter told the press that Valeri had taken a knock in the match but that there were not any players that he was worried about missing on Sunday for the match against the LA Galaxy. Instead, the team was just being cautious with the group of players on the sidelines.
Gaston Fernandez was absent from today's training session. According to Porter, Fernandez was out sick and is not in danger of missing this weekend's match.
Rodney Wallace continued progressing forward with his recovery from offseason ACL surgery today as he joined the team for warmups for the first time since suffering the injury at the end of last season. Wallace also too part in the team's finishing drills, but spent the short field games working with a trainer on the sidelines.
Frederic Piquionne continued his absence from training today as he remains in Martinique, dealing with a family emergency. Porter expressed some concern with the situation as it leaves the Timbers with only two forward on the roster in Fernandez and Maximiliano Urruti.
The finishing drills got off to an ignominious start when Jack Jewsbury and Kalif Alhassan put shots off of the woodwork (the Timbers' bane for the first eight games of 2014). Jack shot with power, slamming the ball off of the crossbar, while Kalif tried to place the ball, instead hitting the right post.
Alhassan and Jewsbury both redeemed themselves with some quality finishing later on, including another moment of serendipity toward the end of practice when both players got shots stuck in the back of the net, wrapped around the frame of the goal, one after another. First Kalif dribbled on goal and hit the ball hard, beating Justin Luthy, then Jewsbury chipped in a ball as the whistle signalling the end of the drill, just after Kalif's ball was dislodged from the net.
During the second round of short field games, Darlington Nagbe had a moment of dribbling brilliance, likely aided by his teammates' disinclination toward putting hard fouls on him. Nagbe carried the ball into the corner of the small pitch where he was closed down rapidly by Rauwshan McKenzie. Nagbe faked cutting the ball back down the field then drove down the end line, selling it so well that McKenzie ended up sitting in the grass, watching Nagbe run at the goal.
Did you know that Andrew Weber can juggle*? He kept three soccer balls in the air for quite a while between keeper drills with Donovan Ricketts and Mike Toshack.
*with his hands
Trialists and Guest Players
Joe Wheelwright, a keeper with the Timbers Academy U-18's, practiced with the team today, providing an extra body in the net.
Kyle Fisher, a defender out of Clemson University, was also practicing with the team today. According to Porter, Fisher is training with the team for a week before the Timbers' U-23's start their short preseason next week, at which point he will join the PDL side.