The Timbers ended a busy first week of preseason training with a preseason match on the road against Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes. Midfielder Tony McManus gives an inside look at the first preseason test in his camp report.
Hello again, this is my third update and we are now into the second week of preseason. We have had three training sessions and a game since we last convened so there is a lot to go over.
We had two training sessions again on Thursday and it was hard work in the morning session with technical work, some possession and playing a full-field game. We are starting to gel with each other and starting to come together as a team, but the legs are starting to get heavy because of the hard training so it is a struggle to push ourselves as hard as we can through the entire training session. After the game is ended 0-0 we do a cool down and stretch and get some rest before the second session.
The second session is going over restarts and just playing the whole time which is a nice change from the hardcore running that we have been doing. After the session we go home for a nice night of rest before our last session before heading to San Jose.
Friday morning we have a light warm up and technical session then move onto possession before some small sided playing and ended with a light sprinting session to end the day. The session was short and sharp because we are leaving bright and early to head to San Jose … so after a stretch we headed out to get treatment and rest up for the game the following day.
Saturday (Game Day)
It is now Saturday morning – the day in which we are going to play our first official game together. Sleep was hard to come by the night before, but that’s alright because we are up at 5 a.m. to get to the airport for our 7:30 flight. Upon arrival, we are immediately notified that our flight is delayed an hour which means less rest at the hotel when we finally get in. After a short hour and a half flight to San Francisco we boarded the charter bus to San Jose where we are going to rest up before the game. Once into the hotel we went our own ways to get a quick bite to eat and then onto a nap before our team meal. After waking up from an hour-long nap, Alex Nimo who was my roommate and I headed down to the team meal. We had a nice lunch and then I walked around a bit to help the food start to digest so it isn’t just sitting in my stomach before the game. After about a 15 minute walk I headed back to my room to shower and watch some basketball before heading to the game at 5:00 p.m.
We got to the stadium and went and walked the field for a bit then met in the locker room for a while before heading out for a brisk warm up. After finishing the warm up we headed back inside to get fully prepared for the game, changing, listening to music, prayer and whatever else is needed to get you fully focused on the game. The game kicked off promptly at 7:30pm and for the first 20 minutes we played very well (not like a team full of new players, a team of players who got up at 5 a.m., a team that has been going through two-a-days for the past week, playing against a team who is two months into their preseason, etc, etc). There were many reasons that you could list that would rationalize us not doing well, but that was not the case at all. Instead we came out fired up and played well in spite of all that. After the first 20 minutes though we lost a little wind from our sail and the fire we had to start the game, but still were able to defend well enough to keep them from any truly threatening opportunities and went into half 0-0.
After a good halftime talk with Gavin we were fired up and ready to come out for the second half and it started off pretty much the exact same way the first half started and we played well again then after about 15 minutes again we seemed to drop a bit, but a lot was due to tired legs and minds and we were fighting to stay in the game. Gavin recognized this and started making changes to the lineup which allowed the level to stay relatively the same, which is encouraging because that gives you faith in the guys who are coming off the bench. Then late in the game, with about 10 minutes to go, San Jose got the break they were going for. They caught us off guard and were able to get a shot off in which Steve Cronin dealt very well with and saved the initial shot, but was unable to do anything about the follow up shot which was pounded into the back of the net and that was the game.
Although we lost the game it was a decent enough result all factors in account. We did some good things over the course of the game in retrospect, were able to shake off some of the rust that had built up over the past several months of not playing, were able to get some play at a very high level, built some relationships with new teammates, got some fitness, and many other positives could be taken from it. Although it wasn't the result on the scoreboard that we wanted, it was a nice way to evaluate the team and where we are at. We will get back to work this upcoming week trying to prepare ourselves for the next big test against New York on Friday. See you guys there!
Posted by Tony McManus