The Portland Timbers got back to it today, holding their first practice since beating expansion side New York City FC 1-0 on the road Sunday. The Timbers held a short, open training session at the team's Beaverton training facility before heading indoors.
As always, all eyes were on the returning pair of Diego Valeri and Will Johnson. The Timbers' offensive centerpiece and team captain, respectively, took another step forward in training today as they fully participated in practice. After training wrapped up, Caleb Porter updated the press on their status.
"They are full out in training today for the first time, so that is an exciting milestone," said Porter. "They will be in training all week."
With both players nearing full match fitness, however, the two will have different path to take before getting back into the first team, according to Porter.
"Will, most likely, is going to play in the T2 game [at Arizona this weekend]," Porter told the assembled press. "He's in a position where it is hard to work into the rotation, whereas Valeri is a player that can be worked in in the second half. Defenders and d-mids, they play in positions where you don't usually sub."
Porter continued, "We feel like with Will it makes sense to get him fifty or sixty minutes with T2 and Valeri we can bring him in slowly off the bench as a spark"
With the weekend's first team match against arch-rivals the Seattle Sounders, some may be hoping for an early return from Valeri, the Timbers' best player over the last two years, but Porter said that the Maestro would "most likely" not be available for the weekend.
The day's session started off with light agility drills, then transitioned into a series of passing drills, and wrapped up with some possession drills at the end. The passing drills were the team's usual, evolving over the course of several iterations and emphasizing quick passing and off ball movement. The possession drills saw the Timbers break into an 8v8+2, at first just looking to hold possession, but eventually adding gates to dribble through for points and then miniature goals to score on as the drills continued.
While even the possession drills were played with minimal contact, Johnson and George Fochive did go foot to foot as Johnson received the ball on the sideline. Johnson, as should be expected, came out of the exchange just fine, but it was confidence inspiring to see him get even marginally "stuck in" seven months after his most recent tackle.
Injuries and Absences
Rodney Wallace, who missed the match against NYCFC, was working on the sidelines today with one of the Timbers' training staff. Wallace, Porter told the press, suffered an MCL strain and does not yet have a timeline for his return to full training. Porter did mention that MCL strains are usually a 2-4 week recovery time.
Michael Nanchoff was also working on the sidelines with a trainer today. Nanchoff is recovering from surgery to repair a sports hernia and should be approaching his return to limited training soon.
Dairon Asprilla was in full training today despite having a full cast on his left arm. After training, Porter told the press that Asprilla fractured his wrist after falling on it in the first half of the match against NYCFC, but that the injury and the cast he is forced to wear would not affect his playing time.
Ishmael Yartey, who was substituted off against NYCFC shortly after being cleated in the leg by Josh Saunders, was in training today and did not appear to be injured at all.
Of the first team players on loan to T2, only Jake Gleeson was on hand for first team practice today.
Trialists and Guest Players
T2 players Danny O'Rourke and Justin Luthy were on hand to train with the Timbers first team today. O'Rourke had previously been listed here as a guest player, but was added to the T2 roster page last week.