Timbers Training Notebook: Ventura Day 1
The Portland Timbers kicked off their next step in their 2011 preseason training by traveling to the sun and shine in Southern California. The squad and coaching staff traveled to Ventura, Calif., Monday and quickly got to work on Tuesday with two sessions.
The morning session was a series of drills starting with ballwork and then switching to small group technical exercises, including some timed 7v7 possession games. With the ability to work on a larger pitch, the team increased both the intensity as well as gradually restricting the touches in the possession drills.
Timbers assistant coach Trevor James talked about the difference between last week’s work in Portland and now training in California.
“We’ve got the testing done. We’ve got some of the fitness done and now we can use the games to get them fitter,” James said. “You can disguise the fact that you’re working as hard because [the team is] playing games.”
Striker Eddie Johnson spoke to the increased tempo and intensity.
“We stepped it up today,” said Johnson. “We got the balls out a bit more. [The intensity] was a bit higher, which we were told it was going to be this week.
“It was good to get playing again. I think everyone enjoyed it even though it was a really, really tough session fitness-wise.”
Top-notch facilities have welcomed the players and staff as they get acclimated to their new surroundings.
“The field is fantastic,” James said. “The field we’re training on is like a billiard table. It is exceptional.”
The team broke for a group lunch and short break before gathering for a late-afternoon session that incorporated full 11v11 games.
James also spoke about the plan for this week’s sessions in Ventura as well as the upcoming preseason games—the first being this Friday against the Fusion.
“We know the players, so it’s just a matter of having a closer look at everybody and seeing what their strengths are and putting that squad together to gel and to get the best performances on the field really,” said James.
James also praised the efforts of head coach John Spencer as the team entered its second week of training.
“Everything is so positive; John’s a very positive person,” James said. “He’s encouraging people to go out and grab something. He’s going to give them every opportunity.“
The players are clearly relishing their surroundings as well as the opportunities presented.
“We’ve only been together for 10 days or so, and you can see everyone’s got their heads down and is ready to work,” Johnson said. “It’s gone extremely well for these first 10 days, and I think the competition in the squad for starting places is only good for everyone because it means everyone’s got to work their hardest every day. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think that’s why we all play this game.”
-2011 Timbers 2nd round pick Chris Taylor and 2011 Supplemental Draft picks Spencer Thompson, Raymundo Reza, and Robby Lynch all reported to camp and took part in their first team training Tuesday.
-Among the list of non-roster players in attendance during Week 2 of preseason are Alo Bärengrub, Freddie Braun, Josh Cameron, Doug DeMartin, Jake Gleeson, Quavas Kirk, Rodrigo Lopez, Tony McManus, Ian Sarachan and Brian Umony.
-In advance of the preseason camp in Southern California, the Timbers coaching staff held its first player combine as an MLS club over the weekend at Oxnard College in Oxnard, Calif. Participating in four training sessions over the two-day combine, 80-plus players showcased their skills through a series of small- and full-sided games.
-Consisting of collegiate and professional players, the player pool at the Timbers combine featured talent from as far away as Argentina and Europe and as close as a seven-mile drive down Highway 101 in Ventura, Calif.
-Following the Combine, one player is currently training with the team.
-Non-roster player Lopez, a member of the 2010 USSF D-2 Timbers, has some experience in Ventura as he was the 2009 PDL Championship MVP for the Ventura County Fusion.