Freshly returned from their 0-0 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes, the Portland Timbers held their first practice session of the week today. Working at the team's Beaverton practice facility, the Timbers had Sunday's starters indoors as they went through their recovery process, while the rest of the team were out on the grass pitch.
The day's session saw the Timbers work a series of possession drills in the early going, before moving to a series of 6v6 games with keepers to finish out training.
Without the Timbers' starters on hand, there were fewer than normal highlight reel moments in the 6v6 matches, but there were still some moments of note. Danny O'Rourke provided the first as he nutmegged new arrival Lucas Melano in the early going. As he dribbled down the wing of the game's short field, O'Rourke cut inside then flicked the ball on through Melano's legs, running onto it as the young attacker pulled up short. When asked about the nutmeg after practice, O'Rourke told the press, "Gotta welcome him to the team somehow."
Melano was involved in another moment of note as well, this time in a more favorable light. Getting in behind his man, Melano drove on goal from a tight angle and looked like he was going to shoot, only to pull up at the last second and chip a well placed pass into the path of Dairon Asprilla who hammered the easy shot home.
The final moment of note came late in the series as Norberto Paparatto worked his way up the field with a series of tidy one-two passes, only to hit his first-time shot off the final return pass just wide of the post. In disbelief, Paparatto exaggeratedly collapsed to the pitch for several second before getting up and running back down the field to rejoin the defense.
After training wrapped up, Caleb Porter talked about the decision to mutually terminate the contract of Gaston Fernandez, saying that the timing was right for the player and the team. He also said Fernandez and the team were still on good terms and that La Gata was using the team's gym while he is still in Portland.
Porter also touched on Fernandez's place in the team, saying that despite Fernadez's time elsewhere on the pitch, he saw him as primarily a No. 10 and that with Valeri getting healthy it would be difficult to get him playing time.
Asked about Melano's ability to start, Porter indicated to the press that he likely would not be in the XI this weekend, but when asked further about it did not rule out the possibility. Porter went on to tell the press that Melano needs to continue building his fitness and his understanding with the rest of the Timbers' attack.
To that end, Melano, Asprilla, and Maximiliano Urruti continued their workout on the pitch while the rest of the team stretched out after practice, running through a series of finishing drills that saw the threesome serving balls into the box for each other and practicing their near and far post runs.
Injuries and Absences
Michael Nanchoff was working with a trainer on the sidelines of practice today, focusing primarily on striking the ball. Nanchoff's injury, if he had one, is not known at this time.
Ben Zemanski, who is working his way back from a torn ACL suffered in preseason, was again on the pitch today, working with trainers as well.