The Portland Timbers held a closed training session today ahead of tomorrow's upcoming match against league leaders FC Dallas. Working at the team's Beaverton training facility, the Timbers had a short session, wrapping up with some corner kicks and passing the ball as the press were allowed out onto the pitch.
Talking to the press after practice wrapped up, Caleb Porter gave a look at what the Timbers were concentrating on today as they prepare for Dallas to come to town.
"We need to be good on set pieces against Dallas," Porter said. "It is an important part of the game. What they do is pretty simple but it is effective."
The Timbers went through their usual pregame video session today before taking to the pitch for training. While their early week video sessions focused on the previous week's match against Vancouver, today's was focused on Dallas.
Talking about FC Dallas, Porter broke down what it is that has made tomorrow's opponents so dangerous early in the season.
"They have three or four things that they do and they do three or four things really well," said Porter. "There is not a ton of difference between them and the other teams talent-wise. Their front four is very dynamic, they are very good on set pieces, and they have got a lot of pace on the counter through [Fabian Castillo] and [Tesho Akindele]. When they get deep on you and they throw the ball in the box they have a guy like [Blas Perez] that can get on the end of it. It is pretty clear what they do, and what they do they do well, so we need to make sure that the three or four things they do really well we need to manage those things."
There is reason for optimism coming into this match, however, given the Timbers' track record in shutting down Dallas in the past, something that Porter touched on.
"We have managed [Dallas's strengths] in the past. A good example was the last game of the year, on the road, when they hadn't been beaten at home in eight games in a row," Porter said. "That was kind of the video session today: to show what they do, which was really clear, and to show some clips of us managing those things in games."
Injuries and Absences
Diego Valeri continued training on the sidelines and, once again, appears to have stepped up his level of activity. After the rest of the team had cleared the pitch, Valeri was still working with fitness coach Nick Milonas, dribbling at Milonas with the ball and looking to create space for a shot on goal.
Jack Jewsbury was out on the pitch with the rest of the team when practice opened to the press. According to Porter, Jewsbury will need to undergo a final evaluation in the morning to be cleared from the league's return-to-play protocol following the concussion symptoms he experienced after the Timbers' match against Sporting Kansas City. If Jewsbury is cleared, Porter said, he will be available for tomorrow's match.
Ishmael Yartey was not yet on hand at training today. Porter told the press that Yartey did get his visa yesterday, but was not able to make the plane to Portland. Instead Yartey is expected to arrive at 4:00 pm this afternoon. Yartey will not be available for tomorrow's match, Porter said.
Michael Nanchoff, Ben Zemanski, and Will Johnson were not on hand at today's training session. Zemanski and Nanchoff are recovering from recent surgeries, while Johnson is recovering from a tibia-fibula break suffered in September of last year. Johnson had been working on the sidelines alongside Valeri for much of the preseason, but has not been present since early in practice this Tuesday.
T2 loanees Schillo Tshuma, Taylor Peay, Nick Besler, and Andrew Thoma were on hand today, despite playing last night's 2-1 win over reigning USL champions Sacramento Republic FC. Peay assisted on the first T2 goal in that match and Thoma was instrumental in the build up to the second.
Jake Gleeson, who also played in last night's match, was not on hand for the day's training. Gleeson is recently returned from a high ankle sprain suffered in the preseason with the first team.
Trialists and Guest Players
Danny O'Rourke continued to train with the Timbers today.
Justin Luthy was back training with the team today after backing up Gleeson in last night's match.
A few quick notes from yesterday's training session, which was short and closed.
- Academy player Peter Prescott was on hand for the day's training session. Prescott is committed to Creighton University after his graduation this summer.
- With Luthy backing up Gleeson in last night's T2 match, Daniel Withrow was on hand to act as the Timbers' third keeper for training.
- When training was opened to the press, the Timbers were all gathered around the goal on the grass pitch, shooting on net. Eventually, Withrow, Adam Kwarasey, and Andrew Weber all took to the goal line simultaneously to keep the ball out.
- Jack Jewsbury did not go the full training session with the team, apparently, but he and Diego Valeri did come over to investigate what all the commotion was about as the team continued their shooting.
- Jewsbury seemed in good spirits and even got down low to head a ball, despite the (joking) protestations of Liam Ridgewell.