Practice, again closed from the start, was held at the team's Beaverton training facility, a departure from last season's habit of holding the final practice before each match at Providence Park. At the end of the day's session, when the press were allowed out onto the pitch, the Timbers were mostly stretching in the center circle.
Liam Ridgewell, Nat Borchers, and Alvas Powell, three of the Timbers' four expected defensive starters, were still up and moving, however. The trio passed the ball around the pitch at a leisurely pace for some time while the rest of the team cooled down.
The far end of the pitch saw several of the Timbers' young players, plus Dann O'Rourke, practicing crosses into the box and heading shot on goal.
After finishing his passing with his fellow defenders, Borchers spoke with the press about returning from the recent collective bargaining agreement negotiations and looking forward to his first regular season game with the Timbers.
Asked about returning from the negotiations, Borchers told the press, "the focus shifts for sure from dealing with a situation where you are not sure if you are going to play and then getting back into it and getting ready to start the season. It is just a matter of shifting that focus and being ready to play tomorrow..."
While refocusing on the match tomorrow, Borchers admitted to a feeling of relief to be back and preparing to play soccer tomorrow.
"I would say there is definitely a relief that we got the deal done and we are going to be starting the season on time and focusing on what we are getting paid to do."
Of course, Borchers will be facing his former team tomorrow for the first time since leaving RSL over the offseason.
"Given this week," said Borchers, "I haven't had a whole lot of time to think about it. I did in the offseason, but this was always going to be a game that we were getting ready for and we trained for the entire preseason. I think as a group we are ready and excited to take these guys on."
Injuries and Absences
With training opening after the day's session had wrapped up, it was hard to pin down if Diego Chara was back in practice today. Chara has been spotted regularly on the sidelines of this week's practices as he continues his recovery from a calf contusion suffered against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Simple Invitational during the preseason. After practice, Caleb Porter told the press that Chara would be a game-time decision.
Will Johnson and Diego Valeri were back to their familiar routine of working out on the sidelines with the team trainers at practice today. Both players ran a series of sprints while practice was open to the press and both players took a series of shots on goal with their injured legs.
Jake Gleeson was once again on the pitch with a small ankle brace after practice, working on some drills with keeper coach Mike Toshack. Gleeson had been out of practice since early February due to a high ankle sprain suffered during preseason.
Michael Nanchoff and Jorge Villafana, both of whom picked up knocks during the simple invitational, appeared to have practiced with the rest of their team. Porter had no updates to the status of the pair.
Ben Zemanski was not at practice following the successful operation to repair his ACL earlier this week.
Trialists and Guest Players
Danny O'Rourke continued his time training with the Timbers today. Word around the team is that O'Rourke will not be signing with the Timbers, but is training with the team while he looks for a new side.
While Valeri was jogging on the sidelines, team owner Merritt Paulson asked him if he was ready to start tomorrow. Valeri answered, "I want to."