The Portland Timbers held their first closed practice of the season this morning as they prepare for tomorrow's preseason home-opener against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Working at the team's Beaverton practice facility, the Timbers put in a brief but spirited warm-up before shutting the doors to the press.
The Timbers hit the pitch later than normal after a preparatory video session. The team ran through a series of agility drills before breaking into three groups of seven for 5v2 possession drills that lasted until practice was closed.
With Taylor Peay, Andrew Thoma, and Anthony Manning still with T2, the Timbers were in need of an extra body for their groups of seven and recruited assistant coach Sean McAuley into the mix. McAuley stepped in with his usual enthusiasm, at one point exclaiming "not in my house," after an attempted nutmeg by Jack Jewsbury was nullified by the ball rolling out of bounds.
After practice wrapped up, forward Gaston Fernandez talked to the press through a team translator, giving his thoughts on the Timbers' preseason, forwards, and the importance of tomorrow's match.
"I had a really good preseason and I am feeling great," Fernandez said. "I just want to give my all to meet the responsibilities that are put on me."
When asked about tomorrow's match, Fernandez confirmed that he is excited to get back out in front of the fans at Providence Park.
"Our first preseason match at home: we are very excited for it and, I have said it many times, it is always a pleasure to play in front of the Timbers Army. We hope that our encounter is going to be very fruitful and will bring a lot of joy for them."
Fernandez also talked about what the Timbers hope to get from tomorrow's match.
"For the coach I think it is really important. We have been getting better as the preseason has gone on and it is always good for him to take a look at how the team has evolved against a real rival and play a full ninety minutes. We are really looking forward to getting out there."
When asked about his growing partnership with Fanendo Adi, Fernandez was quick to praise the qualities of the Timbers' target forward, but also included fellow Argentine Maximiliano Urruti as he talked about the Timbers' forward.
"Adi is a really important player for us. He takes a lot of pressure off us when we need to play a long ball or buy us some time so the wingers or myself can get involved in the play. He is great at holding the ball up.
"It is important whether it is myself, or Maxi, or Maxi and Adi, to really help the team and bring a lot of goals and be fruitful this season."
Injuries and Absences
Jake Gleeson continued his absence from training today as he continues recovering from a high ankle strain. Gleeson is expected to be out for another 3-5 weeks.
Justin Luthy, the Timbers' constant fourth keeper (despite not being on the actual roster), was not with the first team today. While unconfirmed, it is likely that Luthy will play in tonight's closed-door T2 scrimmage against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Thoma, Peay, and Manning were all with T2 today and will also likely play in this evening's closed-door scrimmage.
Note: Chris Rifer and Kevin McCamish will be in attendance for us, so make sure to check in to the Stumptown Footy twitter account for updates from the match.
Trialists and Guest Players
Without Luthy on hand, the Timbers brought in an additional, unknown keeper for the day's practice. The player was not one of the keepers recently seen with T2.
Danny O'Rourke, who is still unsigned, continued his time with the Timbers today.