The Portland Timbers practiced this morning at the team's Beaverton training facility. With a number of players still away on international duty, today's training was compact and intense for the Timbers' first team.
After warming up the Timbers broke into three groups: a seven man group of first team players, a seven man group of second team players, and a trio consisting of Diego Valeri, Ned Grabavoy, and Ben Zemanski. Deploying those groups on half of the Timbers' grass pitch, the Timbers worked their way through several permutations of a seven on seven plus three; first running a standard possession drill, then a possession drill focused on breaking lines and getting the ball quickly from the defense into the attack, and finally bringing on the goalkeepers and finishing out training with a short field match emphasizing the team's wing play.
As the drill evolved, so did the group of players making up the "plus three". While Diego Valeri -- not surprisingly -- was a constant in the center of the pitch, Jack Jewsbury did have a turn in the center while the Timbers were still working on their possession. For the final portion of practice, however, in addition to Valeri it was Dairon Asprilla and Lucas Melano who were playing in the attack for both teams as the wingers concentrated on making proper runs and working with their overlapping fullbacks to get penetration into the box of whichever side was on the defensive.
Injuries and Absences
The Timbers' T2 loanees were back with the first team today after playing their first 2016 regular season USL match over the weekend. Nick Besler, Neco Brett, Wade Hamilton, Taylor Peay, and Ben Polk all got minutes with T2 in their 2-1 loss to the Swope Park Rangers on Saturday night.
As expected, Liam Ridgewell and Andrew Thoma continued their absences as they continue to recover from injury. Ridgewell is now about three weeks in to a projected four to six week recovery from a hamstring strain, while Thoma is several more weeks in to a likely six week absence from a knee strain.
The players missing due to international call ups -- Fanendo Adi, Adam Kwarasey, Darren Mattocks, Darlington Nagbe, Alvas Powell, and Jermaine Taylor -- were all still with their respective national teams and will begin returning to the Timbers over the course of this week.