Timbers players return to JELD-WEN rested and ready for 2012

Head coach John Spencer and squad excited to get to work on the new season

John Spencer, preseason, 1.23.12

Photo Credit: 
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

With a classic Portland gray January morning as the backdrop, the Portland Timbers started their 2012 campaign with preseason fitness drills and training at JELD-WEN Field today. Veterans, rookies and draft picks all took part in what is the first step of Year Two.

“It’s always good to get the guys back,” said head coach John Spencer. “They’re such a good bunch of guys to be around personally as well as professionally. There’s some new faces and I think they’re going to be good additions to the group that we already have.”

And while 2011 was a memorable season to be sure, today also was also a chance to begin looking forward.

“I think we had a good first year,” felt Spencer. “I think it would have been a great first year if we had made the playoffs. We have a lot of positives to build from but you still can’t look back in professional sports. You’ve got to look ahead. We’re looking ahead to try and be better than we were last year and try and go win a championship—not just to try to make the playoffs. We’ve got to try to win a championship.”

Midfielder Jack Jewsbury spent much of the offseason in Portland with his family staying fit and looking forward to the new season. The push for an improved 2012 season end result is one he feels is shared across the team.

“I think guys are dedicated,” he said. “Not only to get better to push ourselves but also each other out here. It’s to be expected, it’s our job. Even seeing guys in the beep test today, guys came in better than they were last year."

Jewsbury is also looking forward to his first full training camp with the Timbers. Acquired late in the preseason last season, the captain is eager to work with the veterans on the team to help lead the group of skilled players.

“With a full year under my belt as captain and now coming in, we’re still a relatively young team,” he explained. “I think guys are still learning how to be pros, how to do it day-to-day, and be consistent. Part of that falls on them, part of that falls on us veteran guys to try lead the way and help them along. “

In the end, the day was a much anticipated one for the squad. Said Spencer, “When there’s such a long period off from training, guys miss it.”

You’ve got to remember that that if you took all the money out of the game, these guys would still play. They play pick-up games whenever they’re able to play. These guys are so energetic. They’re asking, “Are we playing today? Are we playing?” and I’m like, “No, we’re not playing.” All we’ll do is mostly technical stuff."

For Spencer, that desire to come back and get to work was most definitely felt on a personal level.

“I went on vacation to Hawaii and after not getting a text from Merritt [Paulson] or Gavin [Wilkinson] for three days I was having withdrawal symptoms,” he joked. “But we’re looking forward to [getting started]. It’s a process now for the guys to get them fit, make sure we don’t have any injuries in the preseason, start the season nice and fresh and ready to go.”