Preseason camp opened for the Portland Timbers at Providence Park today as players and technical staff reported for physicals ahead of the club’s departure training in Tucson, Ariz. at the Kino Sports Complex.
While players were eager to begin their 2018 campaign, it also marked the first day for new head coach Giovanni Savarese to begin work with his squad and begin to set out his plan for the preseason and the year ahead.
Speaking last week at the 2018 MLS SuperDraft in Philadelphia, Savarese outlined his aims for the start of the preseason.
“First of all, [I want] to try to have a complete roster and not only a base but also we need depth,” he said. “We need some more players to be able to finalize the roster.”
Savarese has had a busy month to begin the year. After arriving in Portland for an introductory press conference, he then traveled a few days later to Orlando for the 2018 MLS Combine with general manager Gavin Wilkinson, the club’s coaching staff and the coaching staff of T2.
Watching the combine matches and scouting college talent, the time in Orlando was also key for the group—which also included new Timbers assistant coach Carlos Llamosa and goalkeeping coach Guillermo "Memo" Valencia—to have some of their first opportunities to talk soccer together in depth.
“I think it’s important for us to be able to integrate everyone to understand what we’re looking for, what is my idea of what I want to bring and share also in what they have experienced in the past to make sure that we are able to work together,” said Savarese. “The good thing is that I found some very good people within the club and I think that’s key because I think everyone is on the same page in what we want to accomplish.”
Now back in Portland with players arriving in the Providence Park locker rooms, Savarese is keen to begin the work ahead of the 2018 campaign.
“I can’t wait to start working with the guys, to get to know the guys, to get to talk to them and start working on the field which is, for me, the most important part,” he said.