The Portland Timbers practiced today at the team's Beaverton training facility, keeping practice open to the press as they went through a recovery workout following the weekend's 3-2 away win over the Montreal Impact.
The morning's practice started off with an informal kick-around for the players, who moved the ball around in large groups, juggled it, and generally goofed around. After fifteen minutes, the team got down to business, breaking into a number of three man groups that combined passing and agility drills.
Half an hour into practice, the team broke up into three groups. Alvas Powell, Steven Evans, and Bryan Gallego broke off from the rest off the team to work with Cameron Knowles on the side of the pitch, making several small passes in the center of the pitch between Evans and Gallego before finding Powell out wide with a long outlet pass.
Toward the center of the pitch, the Timbers' starters from Sunday's match took on the bench players and reserves in a high speed possession drill. During the drill, Will Johnson and Diego Valeri acted as the team's pivot men, always working with the team in possession. The starters came away the winners of the drill, managing to string together eight passes in a row eight times to the reserves' three before the drill wrapped up and the starters were released from practice.
With half the team leaving the pitch, the reserves reabsorbed the Timbers' youngsters into their ranks and again broke into two six man teams with one all-time attacker for a short field game with two full size goals (and full size goalies) facing each other approximately forty yards apart. The game was tight in and intense as players vied for both a spot in the gameday 18 as well as a potential inclusion in the starting XI.
Injuries and Absences
Darlington Nagbe did not train today after having six fouls against him whistled in Sunday's match. Nagbe, Caleb Porter confirmed, was knocked around during the match and has not been confirmed for this Saturday's match against the LA Galaxy. When asked if Nagbe would be available this weekend, Porter reiterated to the press that he was beaten up in the match against Montreal and did not practice today.
Pa Modou Kah was back in practice today and went the distance with the team for the first time since going 90' in the Timbers' 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City at the end of June. According to Porter, Kah is healthy, but still regaining his fitness after the long layoff due to the achilles tendinitis that he has been struggling with this year.
Jorge Villafana, who took a knock in practice two weeks ago that kept him out of the match against the Colorado Rapids, also went the distance in training today. Porter told the press that Villafana is now back to full fitness.
Powell and Gallego both too part in the full practice today. Both players are back with the Timbers after picking up injuries at the clubs they were sent to on loan, the Sacramento Republic and Arizona United respectively.
George Fochive, who picked up a knee injury while on loan with Sacramento, did not train today, but was on hand at practice. After working out with a trainer on the sidelines, Fochive then rode an exercise bike for the remainder of the session.
Steven Evans was also back with the team today from his loan to Sacramento. Evans trained normally.
Rodney Wallace had two noteable shots from out on the left wing in the team's short field game and each one was a booming attempt on goal. Although Rauwshan McKenzie managed to block one (which looked like it hurt), the other had far too much pace for Justin Luthy to get a hand to, blowing by the young keeper even from a tight angle out on the wing.
Fanendo Adi had several chances to hold up the ball in front of goal and, when he received the ball with his feet, did so with aplomb. One one such occasion, Adi was given room to turn and with two defenders on him, he juked right, then left, then right, then left again before finally cutting the ball back onto his right foot and curling it into the back of the net, past his bamboozled defenders and an equally unbalanced Andrew Weber.
In the cramped confines of the short field game, there were few actual combinations able to be pulled off. Michael Nanchoff and Kalif Alhassan's quick 1-2 passing between each other was the most common exception to this however and the pair combined to slice open their opponents' defense on several occasions.
As always seems to be the case, Kalif had his own personal highlights in practice as well. Few players on the Timbers' roster, and even fewer not dismissed with the starters, can create space for themselves like Kalif on the dribble, something he used to great effect in the short field game to score early on, pushing the ball around a defender and slipping it below Weber's diving attempt at a save.
In the short field game several players stood out for their hustle as well as their play. Nanchoff, Wallace, Villafana, and Ben Zemanski all seemed to be popping up all over the small field of play, trying to make things happen.
Norberto Paparatto had several intriguing moments as he dribbled from one end of the tiny field to the other, getting through defenders with surprising ease and playing several nice wall passes off of his teammates before inevitably failing to finish.
Trialists and Guest Players
Ghanaian trialists Lord Ofosuhene and Fatawu Safiu were no longer with the team today, having concluded their three week trial with the Timbers.