On the last day before hitting the road for the season's longest away trip, the Portland Timbers held a closed practice at the team's Beaverton training facility.
With the day's long training wrapped up by the time the media were allowed on the pitch, there was little to see from the Timbers aside from a small group of players juggling a ball and several of the team's keepers practicing long passes to each other.
Caleb Porter addressed the media after practice and took a look at both of the Timbers upcoming opponents, the New England Revolution and Guyana's Alpha United. Porter broke down his expectations for a New England side that have struggled since a hot run of form early in the season.
They have had some really good win streaks, but they have had some losing streaks as well, so they are a dangerous team because of that. They are capable of beating anybody, they have shown that. They have good players.
The Revs, who are largely unchanged from the side that made the playoffs last season, have a number of key characteristics that Porter described when talking about what he is expecting from the Timbers' next opponents.
They are clever. They want to play. They have guys that can keep the ball. They are technical. When they are on they are a tough team to manage. I think they have been caught in a few games, similar to us, in the physicality of a certain type of game and set-pieces and some of those things, but they are a team that looks to play football and it should be an interesting game.
The fact that the Revolution have been so streaky this year makes them unpredictable, according to Porter, but the quality is still there, despite their recent form. For Porter, the Timbers' cannot underestimate their opponents but still need to push for the win.
[New England's quality] makes me nervous going into the game because we can't be looking at where they are at on the table or their record or any of those things. It's definitely going to be a difficult game that we have to take seriously. Obviously we are at a stage in the season where points are really important. We are going to go for it. We are going to go for the three points. No doubt about it.
Finally, looking forward to next Tuesday's match against Alpha United, Porter told the press that information on the Guyanese club was hard to come by, only mentioning their physical, athletic play when asked what to expect.
It's tough with a team like Alpha because they don't film a lot of the games. Usually you can get games on Wyscout, but we've had trouble even finding the game against Olimpia. We've got some highlights, we've got a little bit of intel on the ground where we can do a little digging, but in a lot of ways it is going to be about us... We respect every opponent, but we are going to make it more about us in that game.
Injuries and Absences
Darlington Nagbe will travel with the team tomorrow according to Porter. Although no more information on Nagbe was given, he has been making steady progress back to fitness after missing three weeks due to an MCL strain suffered against the Montreal Impact. On Monday of this week Nagbe rejoined practice for the first time since picking up his injury.
Kalif Alhassan will also travel with the team, Porter said after practice. Alhassan has been out for the last week and was spotted working on the sidelines with a trainer on Monday. After practice today, Alhassan was still on the pitch with a group of his teammates juggling a ball in the air.
George Fochive continued his recovery from a knee injury suffered while on loan with the Sacramento Republic at practice today. When the press were allowed out to the Timbers' pitch, Fochive was still on the field, practicing long passes with the keepers.