The Portland Timbers returned to training today at their Beaverton practice facility after two weeks in Tucson, AZ. The team were in recovery mode two days after their final match of the Desert Friendlies, a 0-0 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes, but should be back to full speed tomorrow as they ramp up to the Simple Invitational then the start of the regular season.
After their practice-opening warm-ups, the Timbers moved into an increasingly complex series of passing drills. Unlike the Timbers' more common passing drills, these were not focused on team movement, but instead on individual skills, with each player focusing on aspects including their touch (one drill had players take the ball down the pitch and around a cone while juggling the ball to keep it up in the air) and their post pass movement (turning off their plant leg after playing the ball).
For there the Timbers' starters, a group that had primarily avoided action on Tuesday, broke off into their own group and went through several drills high intensity drills. The starters started things off with a 4v4+2 possession drill, then brought in Andrew Weber and Justin Luthy for a 5v5 short field game with keepers.
At the other end of the pitch, the rest of the team had a much more low-impact day as they went through their recovery. After some 5v2 possession drills, the reserve group broke up into four groups of four (including assistant coach/video analyst Pablo Moreira) for matches of soccer tennis.
Trialists and Guest Players
Danny O'Rourke continued training with the Timbers today, despite still not being under contract with the team. Caleb Porter has previously noted that the team hope to re-sign O'Rourke, but that they still need to work out a contract with him.
Trialist Omar Cummings, who trained with the Timbers in Tucson and scored the team's lone goal in the 1-1 tie against the Houston Dynamo, was not with the Timbers today. After practice, Porter told the press that the team had seen enough from Cummings to make a decision, but that they would need to look further into the health of his knee after several injury plagued seasons for the Jamaican striker. Porter also noted that, as always, it would come down to the price of the player as well.
While it does not sound like the Timbers will have many trialists with the first team, a number of the trialists coming in to work out with T2 could also be looked at for the first team, particularly a fast third striker in addition to Fanendo Adi and Maximiliano Urruti.
Finally, the Timbers had an academy player in training today to add an extra body at the goalkeeper position.
Injuries and Absences
The Timbers' needed an extra keeper today as both Adam Kwarasey and Jake Gleeson were not practicing with the rest of the team.
Kwarasey worked on the sidelines with a trainer for the start of practice before moving over to work one on one with keeper coach Mike Toshack in a series of low-impact drills. After practice, Porter told the press that Kwarasey was still 100%, but was suffering from some hip-tightness and that the team were just protecting him on their recovery day.
Gleeson, who came off the pitch early on Tuesday after taking a knock, was not on the practice pitch at all, although he was spotted leaving the locker rooms after practice. Porter told the press that Gleeson had tweaked his ankle and would likely be back in practice next week.
As always, Will Johnson and Diego Valeri were working on the sidelines with a trainer. The pair appear to have made marked progress since their departure for Arizona with the team, running a series of sprints during practice and doing some brief passing of the ball.
Johnson and Valeri are both very intense in their rehab, although they seem to focus it in different ways. Johnson seems to be constantly longing to get back in training with the rest of the team, while Valeri looks very inwardly focused.
In the matches of soccer tennis, the group that contained Urruti, Moreira, Schillo Tshuma, and Dairon Asprilla did very well and celebrated at the end of the drill with a group celebration that had them running around the pitch with their arms over each others' shoulders before breaking unto a series of somersaults.
Also in soccer tennis, Nick Besler has a heck of a side-volley spike and managed to grab several points for his side with it.
With the first team, Weber made several standout saves, including a close in double save on Diego Chara and a fantastic reaction save on a Rodney Wallace header that he then had to scramble to punch away before the winger could pounce on the rebound.