The Portland Timbers held a long mid-week practice today at the team's Beaverton training facility, focusing on quickly pressing the ball on defense and creating quality chances in the attack.
After a recovery day on Tuesday and a day spent largely in the gym yesterday, the Timbers hit the pitch today for a series of passing drills, then moved on to possession drills, and finally wrapped up practice with a series of short field games.
Trialists and Guest Players
The Timbers had two guest players on hand today as T2 midfielder Fatawu Safiu and Timbers Academy player Terrell Lowe joined the team. Fatawu, a creative attacking midfielder, has scored seven goals for T2 this season, while Lowe, another midfielder with an attacking bent, finished the 2014-15 academy season on the Top Drawer Soccer U16 Western Conference Development Academy Team of the Year and was called up to the US U-17 MNT camp ahead of their friendlies last month.
Injuries and Absences
Ben Zemanski and Jeanderson were again on the sidelines of practice, working with team trainers in the early going. Jeanderson did get involved in several drills with the rest of the team, serving the ball into a group of youngsters made up of Lowe, Fatawu, and Nick Besler while the rest of the team ran a possession drill.
Maximiliano Urruti, always good for an entertaining bit of skill in practice, had the first really inspired moment of practice in the team's largest possession drill for the afternoon -- a one or two touch 7v7+3 with Jack Jewsbury, George Fochive, and Diego Valeri in the middle of teams consisting of primarily defenders and primarily attackers. Receiving the ball along the sideline of the drill, Urruti found himself quickly closed down by a defender. Casually, the Argentine striker flicked the ball on through the defender's legs and to a teammate, continuing the possession.
During the Timbers' short field games, a series of 7v7 matches with keepers in goal, it was the keepers who put on a show, making several impressive saves over the course of the drill.
Jake Gleeson started off the keeper's highlight reel early on with a sliding kick save on Diego Valeri when the Maestro got in one on one and tried to slip a shot on goal. Moments later Gleeson topped that with another save that had the crowd of media and Timbers staff muttering, impressed. (I, of course, had just looked down to tweet about the first save.)
Andrew Weber, sporting an increasingly impressive beard, also made several nice saves, including tipping wide a quickly taken, and slightly deflected, shot from Urruti.
The field players were eventually able to put a goal away when Fanendo Adi received the ball out wide on the left flank. Cutting inside, Adi dribbled around one defender before sidestepping the charging slide of Gleeson, and finishing the move with an open net tap-in.
Of the two guest players, Fatawu was the more active, taking the playmaking role for his team and serving as perhaps the most accurate passer of the day.