The Portland Timbers' had already wrapped up their training session when today's practice was opened to the press, with the majority of the team stretching on the pitch and others heading indoors. The Timbers spent their final day of practice before tomorrow's match against the Vancouver Whitecaps on the turf pitch at the team's Beaverton training facility.
After leaving the pitch, Caleb Porter took a moment to talk to the press about his players and the upcoming match. First and foremost on everyone's mind was the status of Diego Valeri.
"Valeri will play," Porter told the press. "Whether he starts or comes off the bench, you guys will see that tomorrow. A little bit depends on today and tomorrow, but we have got to make those decisions. But he will play."
With fans and press alike salivating at the potential for Valeri's return, Porter talked about what the Timbers' Maestro brings to the team.
"He is your playmaker," Porter said. "He's your ten... In this system, a 4-2-3-1, we picked him to run the attack. Everything goes through him. When we have everybody healthy and he is in there at the ten we certainly create more and he also produces not only assists but goals. He's setting guys up and he scores. He is one of the best in the league at that."
Porter was also quick to praise Darlington Nagbe, who has taken the team's reins in Valeri's absence.
"We have still been good without Valeri. Darlington Nagbe has been very good," Porter said. "He is different. He is not your true ten, which is why we went and got Valeri and why we float Darlington as an inverted winger, because we feel like Darlington's best position is more of a guy that floats in and out from the wing."
From there Porter went more in depth on Nagbe's style of play and why the Timbers have been missing Valeri.
"[Nagbe] is not really a true playmaker in the sense of dictating the flow and the rythem and the tempo of your team; being a final passer and unlocking defenses. He is different, so when we set out to build this team and play a 4-2-3-1, we picked Valeri as the guy to carry that ten spot for all the reasons that you have seen in the last several years."
"Darlington has played the role well," Porter continued. "He has played it different because he is a different player. We are not quite as dangerous but we have still created plenty of chances to score and enough chances to win games."
Injuries and Absences
Rodney Wallace looked to have practiced with the full team again today and, after training, Porter told the press that Wallace is back and available for tomorrow's match.
Dairon Asprilla, who had surgery on his broken wrist this Monday, appeared to have again worked with the trainers rather than joining the rest of the team for training. Porter told the press that Asprilla would be a "game-time decision" tomorrow and that he is running well but still seemed tentative concerning his wrist.
Will Johnson will not play with the first team this weekend, Porter said, telling the press that the Timbers' captain was not behind Valeri but that it is important that a player in his midfield position be able to play a full match if called on.
T2 loanees Jake Gleeson, Schillo Tshuma, and Nick Besler were among the players at today's first team practice. Taylor Peay and Anthony Manning were not spotted with the first team.
Porter told the press that, barring playing significant minutes against Vancovuer due to injury, Gaston Fernandez, Norberto Paparatto, Michael Nanchoff, Jeanderson, and George Fochive would all join T2 for this weekend's match.
Trialists and Guest Players
Daniel Withrow and Danny O'Rourke were both on hand from T2 for today's training session.