The Portland Timbers practiced at the team's Beaverton training facility today, putting a hard but quick workout on the team's practice pitch before heading indoors to get out of the cold.
Working on the practice facility's artificial pitch, the Timbers spent the majority of training in four interchanging groups of five players, either running circuits around the outside of the pitch or playing a short field game with small goals in the center of it. The circuit consisted of a series of hurdles and flags to run over and around before shooting on the Timbers' keepers in goal and repeating the whole exercise. The short field game, meanwhile, consisted of four small goals, on on each side of the square field, with each group trying to score on two of them.
For the players running the circuit, there was more than just a good workout at stake: pride was on the line as well as Caleb Porter urged the players to pass the man in front of them if they could catch up to them. While the first laps of the pitch did not see many players making up ground, by the end of training some where flagging while some were still going strong.
The final two groups running laps finally saw someone make a pass as Taylor Peay was able to catch up with Danny O'Rourke and Jeanderson. Peay may have been the only one to pass somebody, but Ben Zemanski and Michael Nanchoff also distinguished themselves, putting a healthy distance between them and the other three runners in their group. In fact, it was Zemanski and Nanchoff who first seemed to embrace the spirit of Porter's challenge, markedly picking up the pace as soon as the coach started shouting his instructions.
For Zemanski in particular it was good to see him back at the start of the pack when it comes to the team's runs. While we have seen him involved in training since returning to practice following his recovery from a torn ACL suffered in the preseason, one of Zemanski's defining features in his time with the Timbers has been his stamina and his willingness to push himself in training.
The short field games had their share of notable moments as well. Liam Ridgewell, of course, provided the funniest moment of training as he lay down across the face of one of the small goals, blocking it entirely. He managed to stop one shot in this fashion, but could do nothing about the follow up chipped in over him as he curled up around his stomach --where the first shot hit him.
Injuries and Absences
Jorge Villafana was back in training today and looked to be working without restrictions in the wake of the injury that had him wearing a brace on his foot following the Timbers' second leg win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. Villafana is fully training, is all that Porter would tell the press, remaining cagey about his players as the Timbers approach their Conference Final first leg against FC Dallas this weekend.
Jack Jewsbury was also back in training today, Porter pointed out. Jewsbury had been taking it light last week, Porter elaborated, due to a hip issue that has been ongoing, but, like Villafana, is back in full training.
Darlington Nagbe, Will Johnson, and Alvas Powell all remained with their national teams for Tuesday's World Cup Qualifying matches. The trio will be back in town on Thursday and in training on Friday, Porter told the press. Nagbe made his debut for the USMNT on Friday, playing 30 minutes in a substitute appearance as the US salted away a 6-1 win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Johnson went the distance for Canada in their 1-0 win against Honduras, picking up an assist on the game's lone goal. Finally, Powell played 20 minutes in Jamaica's 2-0 loss to Panama.