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Portland Timbers Training Quotes and Notes: Underdogs

William Conwell

The Portland Timbers held a closed practice session today at the team's Beaverton training facility as they prepare for Sunday's match against the LA Galaxy.

With training buttoned up until the final minutes when the team went through their stretching under the direction of fitness coach Nick Milonas, the Timbers were not giving anything away before Sunday's match. Head coach Caleb Porter, however, shared some of his thoughts on the Galaxy with the press.

Looking at the Timbers' approach to the game, Porter pointed to the difference that Diego Chara's presence will make against LA.

"We expect Chara and Jack to be on the ball a bit more in this game, knowing that we have a kind of natural three v. two numerical advantage in the middle," said Porter. "We expect both teams to have possession.

"I think a real key to this game is going to be in transition because LA is very dangerous on the counter and we need to use the counter as well at times when they have the ball," continued Porter.

LA, of course, are not to be underestimated after winning three MLS Cup Championships in the last four years.

"They are the MLS Cup Champions, so they are the best team in the league, and they have the best player in the league in Robbie Keane, so it is a real measuring stick for us early in the year and if we can pull off the upset against these guys then that makes a huge statement for our club and I think it gives us a lot of momentum for the rest of the year," said Porter. "We look at it as a really big opportunity. Obviously it is a challenge, but it is an opportunity to get three points against the MLS Cup Champions."

The Timbers, meanwhile, have yet to win any silverware since joining MLS and Porter seems to be challenging the team to show that they are capable of beating a proven club like LA.

"Certainly we are the underdog and they are the super-club in MLS," Porter told the press about the Timbers' match-up against the Galaxy, "They have proven that with their trophies and we are five years into this and we haven't won anything yet. We have a lot of respect to earn and this is a good opportunity for us to earn a little bit of respect."

Injuries and Absences

Diego Chara is healthy and fit, according to Porter, and will be available for Sunday's match.

Ben Zemanski was spotted at the training facility for the first time since the surgery to repair his torn ACL. Zemanski was leaving the facility on crutches shortly after practice started.

Michael Nanchoff did not appear to be in training today as he was seen helping Ben Zemanski into the car of his ride away from the training facility. After training wrapped up, Porter told the press that Nanchoff was again dealing with a tight hip flexor, the same issue that he had last week, and that he would be going to Los Angeles to be examined for a possible sports hernia. If he is diagnosed with a sports hernia, Nanchoff will have surgery to correct it, Porter said.

Will Johnson was at the end of the pitch taking shots on goal while the rest of the team stretched after the press were let out to observe the end of the day's session. Although Johnson is "structurally" healthy, Porter said, the Timbers' captain still needs to regain his strength and confidence in his injured leg and will be a week to week decision as he nears his return.

Diego Valeri was on the sidelines of practice today when the press were let out to the field and was doing some running alongside Schillo Tshuma. Porter told the press that there were no updates on the time frame for Valeri's return. Tshuma, Porter said, was dealing with some "minor" groin soreness.

Jake Gleeson was on the sidelines of training once again today, working with goalkeeper coach Mike Toshack. Gleeson looked to be moving well and should rejoin full team practices soon.

Trialists and Guest Players

Daniel Withrow was the Timbers' third keeper in practice today, taking over for Justin Luthy who will likely start in tonight's T2 friendly against the University of Washington.

Danny O'Rourke continued his time training with the Timbers today.