The Portland Timbers held their second training session of the week this morning, with the majority of the first team on hand following yesterday's recovery session.
Training started with two of the team's usual possession drills, starting with a pair of 6v2 rondos then moving into a larger scale 7v7+3 game. From there the Timbers move into the drill they would finish out practice with: an 8v8 short field match with keepers in goal.
Injuries and Absences and Newcastle
Diego Valeri and Diego Chara were both in full practice today and appeared to be fine.The pair were most Timbers' fans' biggest concern for Timbers fans following the rough end to Saturday's match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, but both appear to be fit and healthy.
Missing from today's training were a number of regular T2 loanees in preparation for tonight's friendly against England's Newcastle United. Nick Besler, George Fochive, Jake Gleeson, Jeanderson, Anthony Manning, Michael Nanchoff, Taylor Peay, and Andrew Thoma were all not in first team training today as they look to feature in the match tonight.
Gaston Fernandez, Rodney Wallace, and Maximiliano Urruti all trained with the team today, making it extremely unlikely that they will play tonight.
We got to see more from the Timbers' newest addition, designated player Lucas Melano, in today's training session.
Of particular interest was Melano's play in the final 8v8 game, when he was primarily playing out wide on the left in an advanced role. For much of the start of the drill, Melano was uninvolved, not touching the ball for some time. However, as the drill went on, it appeared that Melano started to get a feel for his team's spacing and started to get into dangerous spots even if his understanding with his teammates was still somewhat lacking.
Once he started to click with his team, Melano finally got on the ball and, when he did, it was immediately obvious what the Timbers saw in him as he quickly and smoothy took on defenders and created several chances for his side.
The defensive side of Melano's game is still something of a question mark as he spent most of the match not particularly involved in the defense, but when he did decide to press high, his quickness and agility were certainly an asset as he hurried defenders on the ball and caused at least one turnover.
- Fanendo Adi and Maximiliano Urruti were feeling it today as both of the Timbers' incumbent strikers put in good performances during training. Especially interesting was how well the pair worked with their respective attacking midfielders, with Adi combining brilliantly with Valeri and Darlington Nagbe, while Urruti and Fernandez effortlessly linked up going in the opposite direction.
- At one point during the 8v8 match, Alvas Powell, a player not afraid to play physically, demonstrated the most effective way to keep Nagbe from turning in the open field. Unlike the common tactic of kicking Nagbe, a 50-50 proposition at best, Powell just put him in a bear hug until the midfielder dropped the ball off to a defender and shook free of Powell.
- Rodney Wallace scored the final goal of the match in quintessential Wallace style, putting pressure on the defense right in front of goal and having the attempted clearance deflect off his head, around the keeper, and into the goal.