The Portland Timbers trained at the team's Beaverton practice session today, getting in their final session before tomorrow's Cascadia Cup match against the Vancouver Whitecaps. With practice once again closed to the press there was not much to see on the pitch, but today Caleb Porter was available to talk to the press and covered plenty of ground after training wrapped up.
As expected, the day's questions started with the new striker Lucas Melano.The young attacking player is capable of playing throughout the Timbers' front four, Porter confirmed, noting that he has experience playing both as a striker and on both wings in a 4-4-2 and 4-3-3.
Porter seemed most impressed with Melano's pace and his ability to change a game by himself as well as when combining with other players. Porter compared this aspect of Melano's game to FC Dallas's Fabian Castillo or the Vancouver Whitecaps' Kekutah Manneh.
Talking about Melano's relative lack of goalscoring, Porter attributed his low goal totals to several factors, particularly playing on the wing for significant lengths of time in recent years. Porter also told the press that the Timbers feel Melano is on the verge of breaking out as a goalscorer.
While practice was still underway, general manager Gavin Wilkinson told the press that the Timbers do no have an arrival date for Melano, but still needed to "check off several boxes" over the next two or three days, in addition to waiting for his visa and international transfer certificate to come through.
Next on the day's docket for Porter was the return of Alvas Powell, who was in training with the Timbers' today after leaving the Jamaican National Team's Gold Cup side. Porter confirmed that Powell would be available for the Timbers tomorrow, later mentioning that Powell would be a very good match up for the Timbers against Manneh, one of Vancouver's most dangerous players.
Although Porter would not give details on Powell's departure from the Jamaican camp, he did confirm that Powell left after a meeting with the coach and that the youngster had not taken his decision lightly. Porter reiterated several times that Powell had been nothing but professional in his time with the Timbers.
Finally, Porter spoke about the Timbers' current injury situation one week after the team was forced to hold several players out of their match against the Philadelphia Union. Unfortunately for Timbers fans, Porter declined to tell the press which players were healthy and which were still dealing with injuries.
Injuries and Absences
Practice had wrapped up by the time the press were allowed out onto the field today, so there was little to go on in terms of the Timbers' walking wounded. As such, let's run down the list of injured players and take our best guesses at who might be available for tomorrow's match.
First, let's just mention that all of these players took part in at least some of Wednesday's training session.
Adam Kwarasey (Quad Strain): You have to imagine that the Timbers' keeper will be in for this one. One of the few players still on the pitch and active today after practice wrapped up, Kwarasey seems likely to have bounced back in time for this one.
Norberto Paparatto (Calf Injury): Papa might be able to play, but it doesn't seem likely that he will. The big man was not spotted in training today or yesterday, which doesn't mean much on its own, but if we over analyze the fact that Liam Ridgewell and Nat Borchers both spoke to the press this week -- a common indicator that a player will be in the lineup -- it seems likely that Papa will be on the bench at best for this one.
Diego Chara (Ankle Sprin): Chara has an iron man reputation for a reason and if he is ready he will be back. A return from the Colombian dynamo would be particularly useful here against the quick counterattacks that Vancouver tends to spring, but for no good reason I am going to bet that Chara is not ready for this one and is left out of the 18.
Darlington Nagbe (Shoulder Sprain): If Chara is the Timbers' iron man, than Nagbe is just Wolverine. (Yes, I know it is not that kind of Ironman.) Nagbe was still out on the pitch at the end of training today, practicing finishing with Michael Nanchoff and assistant coach Pablo Moreira, and looked fit and ready to go. With Nagbe you have to bet that his healing factor has kicked in and he will be ready for the start against Vancouver.
Maximiliano Urruti (Quad Strain): Like Nagbe, Urruti was out on the pitch today working his finishing after practice ended. In fact, Urruti and Jeanderson were two of the last players to leave the training field, ahead of only Diego Valeri, who spent a long time in discussion with Caleb Porter -- a frequent sight before matches. Urruti too looks fit and ready to go, but Fanendo Adi seems like a solid guess to retain the starting spot with Urruti coming off the bench against the Whitecaps.