The Portland Timbers practiced at the team's Breaverton training facility today, putting in the first session of the last week of preseason. With the starters from Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Chicago Fire working through their recovery program indoors, only half of the Timbers' roster was on the pitch for today's session.
With only the Timbers' bench players and youngsters on the pitch, the team went through a quick, but intense session. The Timbers started the bulk of practice with a five on five plus two possession drill that saw Jack Jewsbury and Ben Zemanski partnered in the center of the pitch as the fulcrums for whichever group held the ball at the time.
From there the Timbers moved to the drill that would occupy them for the remainder of practice: a six on six short field game with keepers. Played on a pitch that was not only short, but narrow as well, the game emphasized pressing the ball on defense and pressing forward on the attack, creating opportunities as much through industry and creativity as through quick ball movement.
The sides for the match were comprised of the more veteran Timbers on the edge of the starting XI -- Jake Gleeson, Chris Klute, Taylor Peay, Ned Grabavoy, and Jack McInerney, along with Jewsbury and Zemanski -- and a group of the Timbers' youngsters -- T2 keeper Justin Luthy, Anthony Manning, Andrew Thoma, Nick Besler, Ben Polk, Neco Brett, and Michael Seaton.
The more attack minded group of youngsters jumped out to an early lead, but eventually the veterans would close the gap as they found their attacking tempo -- assisted by some enthusiastic encouragement from Sean McAuley on the sidelines. In the close confines of the narrow field, Polk and Brett were both able to find the space they needed to get on the board in the early going; Brett opened the scoring with a left-footed blast that slammed into the back of the net just inside the near post, then Polk followed that up with right-footed curler that was just outside the range of Gleeson's dive.
The youngsters were not the only ones to impress, however. As his team found their groove, Grabavoy was able to make the most of the tight control that has long been a staple of his play. With the veterans looking at a deep deficit, it was Grabavoy who finally opened the scoring for his more defensive minded side, neatly side stepping a defender and placing a simple, side-footed shot around Luthy for the goal.
Injuries and Absences
While right winger Dairon Asprilla was not on the pitch today, along with the rest of the first team starters, Caleb Porter did update the press on his status, saying that the ankle injury that Asprilla suffered against the Fire on Saturday was minor and that he was optimistic that Asprilla would be back with the team on Friday.
Liam Ridgewell, who is recovering from a calf issue that has dogged him since last match on loan with Brighton & Hove Albion, was on the sidelines of training today, working with the team's training staff. Porter had previously told the press that he expects Ridgewell to be back in training tomorrow, Tuesday, and he stuck with that today.
While Neco Brett and Ben Polk both took part in today's training session and keeper Wade Hamilton backed up Gleeson and Luthy in goal, draftee Trevor Morley was not on the pitch with the first team. Morley was, however, spotted with T2 as the Timbers' USL side took to the pitch following first team training.
Chris Klute was in full training today and continues making strides toward being match fit following the offseason meniscus surgery and subsequent rehabilitation issues that have limited him in the Timbers' preseason to date.