The Portland Timbers held a closed practice session today at the team's Beaverton training facility. Without the specter of CBA negotiations hanging over the proceedings, there was no question that today's practice was all about preparing for Saturday's home opener against Real Salt Lake.
The day's session was closed from the start, eventually opening to the press for the final minutes of practice. Today, that meant that the press were able to take in some finishing drills among the Timbers' forwards at one end of the pitch, while the team's defenders worked their passing at the other.
After practice, new keeper Adam Kwarasey spoke with the press, expressing his feelings about Saturday's match.
"[I am] really excited," said Kwarasey, "it is my first game in MLS and I am really just looking forward to playing in front of the Army."
A part of the revamped Timbers' defense, Kwarasey addressed the importance of a solid defensive performance for the Timbers.
"If you keep a clean sheet then you won't lose; either you draw or you win. It's obviously a very important part of the game and hopefully we can concede less goals than last year and have a good season."
Injuries and Absences
Diego Chara was on the sidelines again today at the end of practice. While it is hard to tell if he took part in any of the training session beforehand, it did not seem likely. Chara is still recovering from a calf contusion that he picked up during the Timbers' Simple Invitational match against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Caleb Porter told the press earlier this week that Chara would be a game-time decision.
Diego Valeri was also on the sidelines as practice wrapped up today, spending much of the time that practice was open passing the ball with Chara. Valeri is still some time away from his expected return from offseason surgery to repair a torn ACL, suffered in the Timbers' final match of the 2014 season.
The Timbers delegates to the MLS CBA talks, Will Johnson, Nat Borchers, and Jack Jewsbury, were not at practice today. It is not clear if the trio were still traveling back to Portland following the negotiations or if they had been given the day off following the reportedly intense schedule of the last several days.
Michael Nanchoff, who had been working with trainers for the last week, looked to be participating in the finishing drills at the end of practice: a positive sign for his availability this weekend after being forced out of last Wednesday's match against the Chicago Fire.
Jorge Villafana was once again practicing with the Timbers' defenders today and, after practice, he told the media that he was ready to play and had recovered from the tightness that caused the team to pull him from last Saturday's match against Norwegian side Stabaek.
Trialists and Guest Players
Danny O'Rourke continued his time with the Timbers today. With the CBA in place and rosters rumored to be the same size, 30 players, as in the previous version, the Timbers should be able continue adding to their current roster.