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Portland Timbers Training Quotes and Notes: On the Fire

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William Conwell

The Portland Timbers held a closed training session at the team’s Beaverton practice facility today as they put in their final preparations for tomorrow night’s match against the Chicago Fire.

By the time that the Timbers allowed the press out to the practice pitch, training had wrapped up an most of the players were indoors. Dairon Asprilla, Jack Jewsbury, Taylor Peay, and Jeanderson were still on the pitch passing the ball from sideline to sideline while a handful of others wrapped up their stretching and headed indoors.

Liam Ridgewell took a moment to talk to the press as he left the pitch, giving a quick look at the Fire ahead of tomorrow's match.

"Their front four are very good players," said Ridgewell. "They have just beaten Dallas away, where we couldn't win, so they are very dangerous at the minute and that's something that we need to look out for."

With the Timbers coming off their first shutout in a month, Ridgewell told the press that getting the shutout against San Jose was "huge".

"We've let in a lot of goals over the last few week and it has been talked about a lot," Ridgewell elaborated. "It has been a disappointing couple of weeks for myself, the back four, the back six and it was nice to get a clean sheet..."

Ridgewell reflected on the timing of the Timbers' poor run in recent weeks.

"Maybe the last few weeks have been a bit of an eye opener; thankfully that just happened now before we make the playoffs and hopefully we can take this solid defensive spell on."

Caleb Porter, speaking to the press after training, also stressed the importance of a strong defensive performance for the Timbers.

"What we don't want to do," Porter told the press, "is lose our solid, compact, disciplined, defensive performance coming back home and trying to score all these goals. We are going to try to score goals, obviously, but we can't get reckless."

Taking a wider look at the Timbers' opponents, Porter warned that the Fire, tied for last place in the Eastern Conference, are better than their record, something that is certainly possible in the parity-rich environment of Major League Soccer.

"I think they're on an upswing; obviously they are coming off a good result against a good team, [FC Dallas]; they'll gain a little confidence from that," said Porter. "I don't think that a point really helps them a ton, just like it doesn't help us a ton. It is a non-conference game so both teams will be going for three points."

Narrowing his focus, Porter also gave his thoughts on the talented Fire attacking corps.

"They have some very talented individual players and they have scored quite a few goals off of counter attacks. Because they have talented, athletic individuals that means that on the counter they can be dangerous. Guys like [David Accam], ‎[Kennedy Igboananike], and [Jason Johnson]: all three of those guys have pace. [Shaun Maloney] is a talented player. Shipp was rookie of the year last year, or should have been if he wasn't. (Dallas's Tesho Akindele was the 2014 Rookie of the Year.) They have got good individual players that you need to be aware of."

Injuries and Absences

Although he was not on the pitch when the media were allowed to see, Alvas Powell should be healthy and available for tomorrow's match according to Porter. After suffering back spasms during the warmups for last Sunday's match against the San Jose Earthquakes, Powell was pulled at halftime of the match.