The Portland Timbers had their final training session today prior to tomorrow’s departure for the Bay Area to take on the San Jose Earthquakes in their final preseason match. With the season opener looming on March 19, the team is looking at this game as a final tune up before the 2011 regular season gets underway. With little room for experimentation, head coach John Spencer is looking to finalize his starting XI.
“I think a week before the season, we’ve got to be looking to putting out what we feel is the best team leading up to that game,” he said.
It’s going to be no different than the team that started against Seattle unless there’s any injuries. We’ll be looking to start what we feel is a team that played very well against Seattle [last week] and give them another chance to have a go at San Jose.”
New Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury—a starter against Seattle—has quickly gelled with the team and has a strong idea of what the coaching staff’s expectations are against the Earthquakes.
“I think it’s just a matter of us continuing to work on the things that [the coaches have] been stressing all preseason. With me being here only a week, I’ve still gotten a good feel for what they’re wanting to do and for us to stay solid and compact as a team,” he said.
It’s something that’s going to be very important moving forward through the season. There’s definitely a good base that they’ve set, now it’s a matter of us stepping it up and up as we move towards the first game.”
While fans are eagerly awaiting the Colorado game and reports of hundreds of Timbers Army supporters expecting to travel to Denver, Timbers players are still staying focused on the task at hand.
“I think guys understand what’s important. It’s not necessarily us looking past [San Jose],” said Jewsbury.
Obviously, we know what we’re working towards in the first game of the year. But still there’s work to be done.”
Spencer, who utilized split squad formats in last weekend’s two games at the Cascadia Summit, has been very happy with the direction and commitment of the team so far.
“We’ve picked all our players, we should be ready to go now. I think the preparation has been excellent and myself and the rest of the staff are very happy with the guys,” he said.
With the preseason unbeaten record on the line in San Jose and a last chance to get the starting XI locked in, Spencer also has a very direct goal for what he hopes to accomplish on Saturday.
“Good performance, clean sheet, good possession in the game, and hopefully walk away with a win.”
- MLSsoccer.com was in attendance today at training as part of their Road Trip to First Kick.
- Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson was named to a 30-man, extended squad for the New Zealand National Team’s two-game tour of Asia. New Zealand head coach Ricki Herbert will trim the pool of 30 players down to 22 before the team’s matches against China and Japan at the end of the month. The All Whites play the Chinese National Team on March 25, in Wuhan, China, before taking on newly-crowned Asian champion Japan on March 29 in Tokyo.
- Not training with the group is midfielder/forward Darlington Nagbe, who has returned to Portland following successful surgery to repair a sports hernia late last week. He is expected to miss 2-4 weeks with his recovery.
- Head coach John Spencer has slimmed down his training group in Week 7, as defenders Quavas Kirk and Taylor Mueller are no longer training with the team.
Timbers Preseason Schedule & Results:
Friday, Feb. 4 – Timbers draw Ventura County Fusion 1-1 at Ventura College in Ventura, Calif. (Nagbe)
Tuesday, Feb. 8 – Timbers draw LA Galaxy 1-1 at The Home Depot Center (track & field stadium) in Carson, Calif. (Umony)
Saturday, Feb. 19 – Timbers draw Houston Dynamo 0-0 at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Ariz.
Saturday, Feb. 19 – Timbers vs. U.S. U-18 National Team cancelled (weather)
Wednesday, Feb. 23 – Timbers defeat Montreal 1-0 at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Ariz. (Johnson)
Saturday, Feb. 26 – Timbers draw Sporting Kansas City 0-0 at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Ariz.
Friday, March 4 – Timbers defeat Seattle Sounders FC 2-0- at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash. (Perlaza, Cooper)
Saturday, March 5 – Timbers draw Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1-1 at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash. (Pore)
Saturday, March 12 – Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium in San Jose, Calif.