The Portland Timbers got back to it today after their 3-0 US Open Cup win over Orlando City U23 on Tuesday. With the team set to leave for Kansas on Sunday, the Timbers kept practice at their Beaverton training facility closed today as they look to sort out the potential lineups for their next Open Cup against Sporting Kansas City.
After practice had wrapped up, Caleb Porter talked about the challenge of playing two games in four days against the same opponent and how the Timbers will approach the two matches.
It is a big week for us next week. We have got the Open Cup and an opportunity to advance to the quarterfinals with a result, and the league play, both of which are important. We want to win both games, so to do that with a tight window, Tuesday - Friday, which is extremely difficult, we feel that to give ourselves the best chance we need to do some rotation in the squad, similar to what we have done in some of the other weeks where things are very compacted.
The Timbers made use of a wholesale squad rotation three weeks ago when they played three games in just over a week, including a long cross country trip as they played away at both New York and Los Angeles before returning home.
Playing the same lineup Tuesday and Friday would not give us the best chance; that is a tight turnaround. We have [rotated the squad] in the past, it has worked, so there will be some rotation. We have a clear plan of what we want to do in both games.
With so many players seeing minutes recently, the Timbers have a number of different players that could be called upon and their fresh legs could give them a big advantage over an injury and World Cup drained SKC side.
After the first game things could change a little bit based on form and injuries and the shape that guys are in, but we have a tentative plan with the starting lineup that we are going with and the bench for the first game that gives us, we feel, the best chance to win. It is a strong group, but then also we need to have some fresh bodies for Friday, so we will keep some guys here in Portland so that when we come back we have got some guys, a good majority of the guys, that are fresh and ready to get that result in the league game.
Injuries and Absences
Ben Zemanski continued to miss practice today, according to Porter. The Timbers' midfielder is still working his way through the league's return to play protocol after suffering a concussion in the Timbers' May 28th match against Chivas USA. Last week Porter told the press that Zemanski was no longer suffering concussion symptoms and would begin the protocol.
The other Timber not in practice today was Pa Modou Kah, who is out for the time being while he recovers from achilles tendinitis. Kah had been dealing with the tendinitis for the last several weeks, according to Porter, but was recently given an extended rest to better heal and will be out for the next week. Kah was at the practice facility today, on the sidelines with bags of ice strapped to his achilles tendons. While his fellow defender Danny O'Rouke talked to the press, Kah took a moment to shower O'Rourke with ice from his ice bags.
Norberto Papratto took part in the full practice today, Porter confirmed. Paparatto had been held out of practice to recover from a knock suffered against Real Salt Lake two weeks ago, but is now back and fully training with the team.