Timbers Training Notebook: Day 5

More intensity, increased communication

Training - 1.28.11

Photo Credit: 
Photo by Brian Costello

The first week of the 2011 Portland Timbers Training camp came to a close here at the adidas North American headquarters with a decidedly marked increase in intensity with the players. Head Coach John Spencer brought the full squad out for warm-ups and jogs led by strength and conditioning coach Karim Derqaoui.

The sun peeked through off and on throughout the practice and after the team was split in two with half heading inside the adidas village athletic center for more strength work, Spencer took over with assistant coach Trevor James directing some higher energy sprints.

The first outdoor group was tasked with running a series of intersecting routes of sharp cutting moves around a tightly constructed pathway of cones. With Spencer directing them to hit the path hard and, “Don’t cut corners!” the exercise began to push players not only on their fitness levels, but also on the communication and awareness level. Without talking to back and forth about direction, the players would have run into each other. “You’ve got to be aware of each other on the field.”

To Spencer, building a great sense of communication is key.

“I think it’s a big weakness in American soccer and players’ games is the lack of communication,” he said.

I think it comes down to that [players] don’t want to insult anybody or hurt their teammates. I just said to the group, quietly over there, that I don’t want you to abuse anybody—that’s not what we’re trying to do here—but placing demands on each other, verbally, is not a bad thing.”

“It’s encouragement, positive encouragement, [and] to reinforce it verbally is a good thing.”

Players such as defender Rodney Wallace stood out in this drill with his breakneck speed while goalkeeper Troy Perkins could be heard shouting encouragement to rookie midfielder Darlington Nagbe.

After a bit of a run down to ease out the muscles, goalkeeper Adin Brown joined Perkins in some goalkeeping drills and footwork exercises while the rest of the squad split off to do some ball handling and juggling drills. Again, Spencer’s positive voice could be heard across the pitch but the emphasis was on building not just communication but also concentration. With the added intensity of the sprints, the need for focus within the rising exhaustion became paramount.

After a swap of groups with the indoor group coming out and vice versa, the team finished the morning meeting with various members of the media.


  • Many Timbers season ticket holders were in attendance today on the sideline and were treated to a pre-practice chat with head coach Spencer.
  • The team will enjoy a short break over the weekend before leaving for California on Monday to continue preseason training and take part in their first exhibition game against the Ventura County Fusion on Feb. 4. Tickets are available here.
  • Assistant coach Amos Magee and goalkeeping coach Adam Smith were not in attendance today as they were en route to Ventura County to prepare for this weekend’s Portland Timbers Invitational Combine.
  • General manager and technical director Gavin Wilkinson expects close to 100 participants in the combine.