The Portland Timbers continued training today despite the ongoing collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Practice, held at the Beaverton training facility, was closed the the press today as the Timbers make their preparations for Saturday's season opener against Real Salt Lake.
Before practice started in earnest, the Timbers broke into two groups for an informal rondo, kicking the ball around for ten minutes. From there the team started their usual warmups, going through a series of agility drills until practice was closed to the press.
After practice wrapped up and the press were allowed back out onto the pitch, Rodney Wallace and Fanendo Adi both addressed the media. Both Wallace and Adi were firm in their statements that the players were only focusing on the match on Saturday and were not thinking about the CBA negotiations.
"Right now the important thing is that the group is together and preparing for the game we have coming up on Saturday," said Wallace when asked about how much he worries about the possibility of a player strike.
Of course, two Timbers that are expected to play on Saturday, Nat Borchers and Jack Jewsbury, are away at the CBA negotiations. When asked about their absence, Wallace told the press, "they are important pieces, but at the same time we have got to adjust to who we have here and we have to go about it as if the guys that are on the field are going to play and go from there."
When asked about the state of the attack, Wallace seemed positive about the team's trajectory, saying, "the chemistry is getting there and it is a similar group to what we had last year so it is not to hard to get going from there."
For his part, Adi told the press that the team is focused on what they need to do, not the possibility of a strike.
"We are just focused on Saturday," was Adi's regular refrain as he was asked about a number of different aspects of the current negotiations.
When asked about the team this year, Adi mixed it up: "this year is going to be a special year for us. We know that from the preparation and from talking to each other as players and coaches. We are looking forward to a great season."
Injuries and Absences
Will Johnson, Nat Borchers, and Jack Jewsbury were all absent from training today as they are in Washington D.C. for the CBA negotiations. Johnson is still recovering from the broken leg that will likely keep him out for the first month or more of the season, but Borchers and Jewsbury are expected to be starters on Saturday.
Diego Chara, the other expected starter in the defensive midfield spots alongside Jewsbury, worked on the sidelines with a trainer today. Chara has been out of practice for a week and a half since taking a knock in the Timbers' 1-0 Simple Invitational loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps. According to Caleb Porter yesterday, Chara will be a game-time decision.
Michael Nanchoff was also on the sidelines working with the team trainers today. Nanchoff also picked up a knock during the Simple Invitational, suffering a strained hip flexor during the Timbers' 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire last Wednesday. Porter also said that Nanchoff would be a game-time decision.
Jorge Villafana, who was forced out of the final Simple Invitational match due to some tightness, was back in training with the rest of the team today.
Diego Valeri, who is still recovering from his torn ACL suffered at the end of the 2014 season, worked out on the sidelines of today's training session. After training had wrapped up,. Valeri was still on the sidelines taking shots on goal from around the penalty spot.
Ben Zemanski has undergone surgery to repair his ACL according to a team press release, and is expected to be out for "at least five months".
Jake Gleeson was in a smaller ankle brace today than the ones that we had previously seen him in as he continues his recovery from a high ankle strain that he suffered while the Timbers were in Tucson, AZ.
Trialists and Guest Players
T2 player Rennico Clarke trained with the first team today, likely providing an extra body for the day's practice with so many players away or injured.
Currently unsigned players Blair Gavin and Danny O'Rourke were still with the first team today. Gavin has been expected to sign with T2, while O'Rourke has been expected to sign with the first team.