The Portland Timbers stepped up their training today as the team moved out of the recovery phase of the week and into full on preparations for this weekend's rivalry match against the Seattle Sounders. Training at the team's Beaverton practice facility, the Timbers put in a full session, focusing on winning and keeping possession.
After their warmup and a brief moment of Caleb Porter addressing the team, the Timbers broke out into an evolving passing drill. From there the team moved to a series of possession drills: first a pair of 5v5+2 drills, then a 7v7+3 drill on a larger playing area. Finally, the Timbers wrapped up practice with a short field 5v5+1 match with keepers and players around the outside of the area as bumpers.
The close-quarters match lead to plenty of goalscoring hijinks, with just about everyone getting on the scoresheet and plenty of players making the practice session highlight reel.
Diego Valeri, splitting time as the match's "+1" -- the player always on the attack -- with Darlington Nagbe, looked as smooth and skillful as ever. Early in the game, Valeri made a hard-charging run toward the opposition goal just as Maximiliano Urruti, playing as one of the bumpers on the baseline, chipped the ball up and into Valeri's path. With no room to operate, Valeri simply struck the almost waist-high ball on the volley at full speed, hammering it past Jake Gleeson and into the back of the net.
Valeri not only had his shooting boots on, but they must have been dancing boots as well. Earlier in the possession drills, the "Troesma" had one particularly sublime moment of dribbling skill: spinning away from the pressure of Norberto Paparatto in a tight pirouette with the ball at his feet, Valeri then, in the same motion, played a quick pass through the legs of Nat Borchers as the Timbers' veteran back came to assist in shutting him down.
The pass to Valeri was not Urruti's only highlight as one of the bumpers; toward the end of the match, a high ball was headed out of bounds high and to the side of Urruti. Rather than letting it go, the Argentine striker threw himself into the air and performed a flying scissor kick, keeping the ball in play. Of course, the attempt was less than controlled and ended up ceding possession to the opposing team.
There were some very strong defensive moments as well, despite the close quarters lending themselves to quick attacking movements.
Adam Kwarasey made one particularly nice save in the early going as new arrival Michael Seaton found himself seemingly alone in front of goal after a nice pass from out on the wing. With Kwarasey looking on from over by the post, Seaton went for a simple, one-touch finish as the ball got to him; side-footing the ball in rather than hitting it with power. Kwarasey, however, was already in motion, diving across the goal mouth and arriving just in time to palm away what looked like a sure thing for the young, Jamaican forward.
Jeanderson, who has been spending most of his time with Portland Timbers 2 recently as a large part of their attack despite playing out of the left back position, found himself on the goal line with Jake Gleeson nowhere to be found as a header came floating in on goal. The skillful fullback perhaps could have headed the ball away, but instead went with something a little more flashy, clearing the ball away with a perfectly executed bicycle kick. As Jeanderson picked himself up of the ground, his teammates were already down the pitch and scoring at the other end, giving him the assist off the acrobatic clearance.
Injuries and Absences
Ben Zemanski and Andrew Weber were again, as expected, on the sidelines of practice. Joining them there, however, was Liam Ridgewell.
Zemanski, who is recovering from a torn ACL and who is still several months away from being match fit, spent much of his time on the pitch running sprints down the sidelines, while Weber went through a number of agility drills and resistance exercises under the supervision of one of the team's trainers.
Ridgewell, who also missed some time in training several weeks ago, sent the duration working under the care of fitness coach Nick Milonas and doing a variety of exercises.
Toward the end of training, Weber, who is expected to return to full training tomorrow, and Ridgewell spent some time passing the ball back and fourth before heading indoors.