The Portland Timbers held a short but intense practice session today at the team's Beaverton training facility.
Although practice started out closed, the doors were opened to the press early on with the Timbers running through some of the team's usual possession drills, in particular a pair of 4v4+2 groups. From there the Timbers moved to the drill that would carry them through the end of training: a 5v5 short field game with keepers and "bumper" players around the periphery of the pitch to play the ball off of for one-touch passes.
The twenty field players on hand played in shifts of two minutes at a time before being called on to swap out with the bumpers as play continued.
Following the end of the final drill, the majority of team headed indoors for a gym session, but Fanendo Adi, Maximiliano Urruti, and Diego Valeri all stayed on the pitch to work on their finishing under the direction of Sean McAuley. With Adam Kwarasey and Andrew Weber taking shifts in goal, the Timbers' trio of attacking players first practiced laying the ball off or turning and shooting with a man on their back, then moved to finishing crosses before eventually heading indoors themselves.
After training wrapped up, Jack Jewsbury and Nat Borchers both took a moment to speak to the press about the team's upcoming three game road trip that kicks off this weekend with a match against the Montreal Impact in Montreal.
Borchers, speaking to the press first, gave his two cents on Montreal; specifically the aspect of the Impact that he will have to deal with most often, the attack.
"I think we are all impressed at what they can do on both sides of the ball," said Borchers. "Offensively they are really dynamic with [Dominic Oduro], [Ignacio Piatti], and [Andres Romero], then you throw a guy like Jack McInerney in up there who is a clinical finisher, they could present some problems for us."
Jewsbury gave his appraisal of the Timbers' next opponents with a somewhat wider lens, acknowledging that the Impact will be something of an unknown quantity in the league, despite their CONCACAFnChampions League run.
"They are a team that has played well [in the CCL]. In the league they are not where they want to be, so they are kind of a dangerous team in that aspect because you don't really know what to expect and this is the only time we play them all year."
To get a result in Montreal the Timbers will need to continue building off of their defensive performances, which have been the team's strong suit so far this year.
Jewsbury continued, "Like we did in New York, we have got to be sound defensively and when we get opportunities make sure that we take them."
That game, according to Jewsbury, should be an exciting one as both teams will be looking for a win.
"Especially being at home they are going to be biting at the bit to get three points and get themselves up in the standings, as are we," said Jewsbury. "So, it will be a good game, hopefully an entertaining game... As the first of three road games it is important that we get something out of it."
Of course, heading to Montreal is the longest journey that the Timbers will take this season and it is not without its trials. Borchers gave his perspective on the Timbers' cross country travel, something that he did not deal with in the same quantities during his years with Real Salt Lake.
"I think the biggest difference is the time change," Borchers said. "It is a three hour difference and we got to experience that in New York. It is quite a big difference. When you get in to the East Coast you get in late and you are still on West Coast time and it takes you a day or two to adjust.
Injuries and Absences
Dairon Asprilla fully participated in training today, mixing it up in the day's drills with no problems. Asprilla missed last weekend's match against the Whitecaps as he recovered from surgery to put pins in his broken wrist, an injury suffered against New York City FC two weeks ago. Caleb Porter told the press on Monday that Asprilla would probably be available this weekend.
A number of first team players who participated in Sunday's Portland Timbers 2 match against the Vancouver Whitecaps were not in practice today and were likely continuing their post-game recovery program indoors. Gaston Fernandez, Jeanderson, Norberto Paparatto, and Will Johnson all played in the T2 match against the Orange County Blues FC and all were absent from today's training, although Johnson was spotted leaving the practice facility after training was over.
Jake Gleeson, Nick Besler, Taylor Peay, and Schillo Tshuma all trained with the first team today, making Andrew Thoma the only regular loanee to T2 who did not train with the first team today.
Trialists and Guest Players
Danny O'Rourke, Justin Luthy, Anthony Manning, and Fatawu Safiu were all on hand to represent the T2 roster in first team training today.