The Portland Timbers practiced again at the team's Beaverton training center this morning, running a fitness focused session as the team prepares for next weekend's kickoff of the Simple Invitational against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The morning started off with some basic warm-ups then immediately moved into the team's second fitness test of the preseason, a timed run around the pitch with trainers keeping the players appraised of their current pace.
After completing the fitness test, the Timbers moved into a series of basic passing drills that served by as a cool-down from their run and further stamina building.
Finally, the Timbers wrapped up training by playing a full field 11v11 for three ten-minute periods, changing up the lineups in each iteration. The teams respectively wore the Timbers' usual grey training tops or orange pinnies.
Here are the initial lineups:
Grey team: Justin Luthy; Jeanderson, Anthony Manning, Danny O'Rourke, Taylor Peay; Darlington Nagbe, Jack Jewsbury, Nick Besler, Dairon Asprilla; Gaston Fernandez, Fanendo Adi
Orange team: Andrew Weber; Alvas Powell, Nat Borchers, Norberto Paparatto, Jorge Villafana; Ben Zemanski, Diego Chara; Schillo Tshuma, Michael Nanchoff, Rodney Wallace; Maximiliano Urruti
The lineups were changed up for each period, however, with draft picks Kharlton Belmar and Andrew Thoma both making appearances with the second team offensive and defensive groups, respectively.
More interesting, however, were the permutations that the Timbers' first choice attacking group went through. For the second period, the Timbers went with a group of Nagbe, Wallace, and Asprilla freely interchanging below Adi; they then changed it up again for the final period, putting Adi and Urruti together at the top of the formation and the pairing of Nagbe and Wallace on the wings.
The match, which essentially pitted the Timbers' best attackers against their best defenders, was a very even one, with only two goals coming in the process. The first came off a penalty kick, awarded after Urruti was barged over in the box on the far end of the pitch.
The second, however, was much more pretty, and came in the third period. Wallace received a ball at the top of the box with his back to goal, turned, and struck a beautifully weighted pass into the path of Urruti, who took a touch and blasted the ball home from close range. Weber even managed to get a hand to the shot, but could not stop the powerful shot from finding the back of the net.
Injuries and Absences
Will Johnson and Diego Valeri continued their time on the sidelines of practice today, spending a significant amount of time working on their lateral movements with the team trainers. Both players continue to look much improved, although Johnson told the press after practice that he still does not have a timeline for his return from the trainers.
Adam Kwarasey continued working out on the sidelines with the trainers today and did not take part in the full team training. Caleb Porter told the press yesterday that Kwarasey was suffering from a tight hip, but that his injury was minor.
Similarly, Jake Gleeson, who injured his ankle in Tuesday's match against the San Jose Earthquakes, was not on the training pitch for the second day in a row. Porter also characterized Gleeson's injury as minor and said that he could return to practice next week.
- The fitness test early on was not exactly overflowing with excitement, but it did contain strong showings from several players. Ben Zemanski was, of course, at the front of the pack, while rookies Nick Besler and Kharlton Belmar both clocked very quick times.
- Rodney Wallace and Dairon Asprilla were also among the quickest finishers and both players put in very impressive sprints to finish out their times.
Beyond the goals, there were also several notable moments from the day's 11v11 scrimmage.
- Darlington Nagbe looked just about unstoppable on the dribble, taking on anyone and everyone. Michael Nanchoff was on the receiving end of a particularly bad beat as Nagbe pirouetted around him and accelerated away, a move that we have all seen many times in MLS play, but that remains just about unstoppable regardless.
- Nagbe did not get by everyone, however, with Norberto Paparatto making one notable tackle that took the ball neatly off Nagbe's feet and left possession with the big Argentine.
- Asprilla managed to get off a very nice shot just inside the box, turning on a dime after receiving the ball with his back to goal and firing off a shot in one smooth motion. The shot did not have the placement to beat the keeper, but it was a something-from-nothing moment as he got off the shot with seemingly no options and defenders closing in.
- Fanendo Adi did not have many chances to score in the day's scrimmage, but where he did shine was in creating chances for others. Adi had several defense splitting passes that were just inches away from finding their targets, including one for Wallace that had every observer on the sidelines nodding in appreciation.