Timbers training a help for international players

Steve Purdy

Photo Credit: 
Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Timbers

PORTLAND, Ore. – As the Portland Timbers enter the final week of offseason training, it’s clear the club has gotten a lot of traction from the sessions.

For head coach John Spencer, it’s been a way to keep his players sharp for next season by shortening the offseason.

For four trialists who started training with the team Tuesday, it could mean a spot with a new club.

And for three Timbers internationals, the sessions have been a way to stay sharp for this weekend’s slate of international matches.

“It’s just keeping them going,” Spencer said. “It’s a long offseason, we recognize that. I think everybody, most of the coaches, have come out and said that, ones that were out of the playoffs early, it’s a long offseason.”

Spencer has been adamant that he hasn’t taken anything away from the trainings that he didn’t already know from the regular season. The sessions have mostly consisted of full-field scrimmages.

Defender Steve Purdy (El Salvador) — who, along with midfielder James Marcelin (Haiti) and forward Brian Umony (Uganda) joined their national teams during the week — said earlier this week that staying active with the Timbers has been useful to maintain full fitness for their international matches over the next several days.

Purdy started on the backline in El Salvador’s 3-1 win on Friday over Suriname to advance to the third round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

“We’ve actually had some really sharp trainings with the Timbers even though it’s the offseason,” Purdy said. “They’ve actually been really competitive.”

Purdy said it may not have been the first choice for the players to keep at it with nothing to play for, they’ve all maintained their competitive edge. That was clear Tuesday when a handful of players continued a shooting and passing drill following a scrimmage, even after Spencer whistled the training session over.

“Whenever we get together and play, for whatever reason we all have that competitive personality in whatever we’re doing,” Purdy said. “It could be a small thing like playing a video game; we’re all really competitive about it. I think it’s just a natural thing.”

Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at dcitel@hotmail.com.