BEAVERTON, Ore. – Seven weeks to the day since the Portland Timbers had their last training session on the eve of their memorable 2015 MLS Cup victory, the team took to the pitch today at the adidas Timbers Training Center to begin their 2016 preseason preparations.

Having the shortest offseason in team history was a welcome development for the players.

“It was a little time off which was nice so hopefully we can have that same small break next year,” said midfielder Jack Jewsbury with a smile. “It feels good. You miss the guys even though it’s just been about seven weeks that we haven’t seen some of them.”

Defender Nat Borchers was also keen to be back out on the pitch, even with the trademark January rain that welcomed their return.

“I actually heard the weatherman say the other day that you don’t have to shovel rain,” he joked. “I kind of liked that, coming from Colorado and Salt Lake.”

After directing a session that saw players get out on the field for drills and exercise, head coach Caleb Porter spoke about getting his team back to work and prepared for the upcoming season.

“It was a nice offseason knowing that we won the MLS Cup, that felt great,” he said. “But this is a new year now so we’re focused on trying to do it again.”

General manager Gavin Wilkinson and Porter were able to bring back the majority of their Cup-winning side while also adding a few new players to the mix. With the exception of Darlington Nagbe and Liam Ridgewell--who are away on U.S. national team duty and on loan with Brighton & Hove Albion respectively--all of the players were at training on Saturday. New faces Ned Grabavoy, Zarek Valentin, Jack McInerney, Jermaine Taylor and Chris Klute joined in with recent MLS SuperDraft selections to round out a full complement of players.

The first steps of melding those new faces into a new organized group began with Porter addressing the team’s hunger to have another successful campaign. He was clear in talking to the players about starting the process today.

“The message was that [for] the guys that were here [last year], they have now tasted what’s possible at the end of this long MLS road,” he said. “There’s no greater motivation to do it again than when you’ve done it before and you feel that feeling that we had at the end of the year.

“But I also told them that’s a long way off and right now our focus is on the next six weeks and being in the best form possible physically, tactically, and in terms of our cohesiveness that we can to get three points against Columbus [on Mar. 6].”

At the end of the day, players and coaches alike were all just happy to be out kicking a ball around.

“If you like what you do, you want to be out here every single day playing,” said Borchers. “We’ve got a good group, a good vibe and we definitely want to take a lot of the confidence we had from last year into this year. It’s good to be back, for sure.”