The Portland Timbers held their second open practice of the week today as the team shifts from recovery mode following their 3-1 win over FC Dallas on Saturday into full-on preparation for this weekend's match against visiting Orlando City SC.
The team worked hard today, starting with their usual warmups before moving to a series of passing drills that focused on working the ball down the pitch in evolving combinations before setting up a final shot on goal. From there the Timbers went to a series of 6v3 possession drills with slightly different rules in each iteration.
Talking to his players about how they pressure the ball while outnumbered, Porter told a group consisting primarily of regular starters, "hard work, but smart work; always."
Finally, the Timbers moved to a series of 7v7+3 short field matches, again with different wrinkles thrown in as the session went on. The drill started off with an attacking side and a defending side, with both trying to get five touches before they could shoot or break out, respectively. Next, the team moved to a more traditional short field game, with goals and keepers on both ends of the pitch.
In this version the "+3" saw the Timbers put two players out on the wings and one in the center, rather than giving all three players the freedom to roam the pitch. This served a purpose just beyond spreading things out as Porter emphasized the ability of the team to create holes in the opposing defense by moving the ball from wing to wing.
That ability to move the ball quickly from side to side was epitomized in a play toward the end of the drill that saw the ball bounced off both wings before getting kicked inside to Darlington Nagbe. Nagbe played a quick ball to Maximiliano Urruti, who was running across the face of the goal, and Urruti played a perfectly placed back heel to return the ball to Nagbe as he cut in on goal and hit a one-time shot into the back of the net. The movement had Porter yelling encouragement to his team and ending practice moments later on a high point.
The New Guy
With a somewhat more involved practice today, following yesterday's brief recovery session, new arrival Ishmael Yartey's full array of talents were on display. Consistently lining up on the left wing, Yartey was true to the description that Porter gave of him: looking to drive at goal from out on the flank and happy to take players on. In his early opportunities, Yartey had some difficulty beating the ridiculously athletic Alvas Powell, but as practice went on he seemed to become more comfortable, both in linking up with his teammates and in going at players.
Yartey has a definite burst of speed and used it to good effect when he found himself matched up against Jack Jewsbury, rather than Powell, creating space for crosses into the box form out wide or driving at goal.
Unlike Rodney Wallace, whose default is to either go to the end line or parallel to it along the top of the goal box, Yartey's approach seemed very diagonal across the field. While he was not given space to dribble often during training, when he was he tended to make the most of it, including getting on the end of his own rebound and finishing once during training.
How Yartey will fit in with the rest of the Timbers remains to be seen, as his lack of rapport with some of his fellow players, particularly Jorge Villafana and Jeanderson when they played behind him, was made obvious by a series of misplaced passes and awkwardly spaced runs into other players' space. This, however, is something that will simply take time to develop.
The unknown with Yartey remains his ability and inclination to get involved on defense. While he seemed game in the defensive side of the possession and pressure aspect of the day's, his position out on the left wing rarely saw him involved on a larger scale.
Injuries and Absences
Diego Valeri was in training again today and will be fore the foreseeable future according to Porter's comments after practice yesterday. Valeri took part in the day's warmups and passing before breaking off to work with a trainer on the sidelines of practice.
Will Johnson and Michael Nanchoff were on the sidelines to start practice and remained there for the duration. Once Valeri joined them, however, Nanchoff broke off to work one on one with one of the team's trainers, while Johnson and Valeri worked on their fitness with fitness coach Nick Milonas, running a series of passing drills that involved a significant amount of running.
Ben Zemanski was not spotted at the training center today.
Trialists and Guest Players
T2 goalkeeper Justin Luthy and guest player Danny O'Rourke were both on hand for Timbers training today.
T2 training overlapped with the first team's training session today as they prepare for their first away match tomorrow against the Real Salt Lake. The match will be available for live streaming on the Timbers' website.
Not training with the rest of the team were Santiago Biglieri, Rundell Winchester, and Brent Richards. Biglieri is still getting back to match fitness after a long layoff in Argentina, Winchester was on the receiving end of some harsh treatment in the team's first two match of the season and may have picked up a knock, and Richards is recovering from a minor surgery on his knee.