Donovan Ricketts a go for Seattle matchup despite injury, but Portland Timbers still have lineup worries
BEAVERTON, Ore. – Portland Timbers fans got a scare this week when reports surfaced from Jamaica that goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was left off their international team’s roster for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers due to a broken finger.
And Timbers head coach Caleb Porter confirmed during Wednesday’s session at the team’s training facility, their first time back on the field since Sunday’s 2-2 tie against Vancouver, that Ricketts does have a “thumb issue.” But Porter also said it’s one he’s been dealing with for several weeks and that it won’t keep him out for this Sunday’s crucial matchup against Cascadia rival Seattle Sounders.
“I’m not going to comment on the extent of the injury like I don’t comment on any of the players’ specifics, but he has had a thumb injury he’s been managing,” Porter said. “As you can tell with his play against Vancouver, he’s been managing it fine. It’s not been an issue, but it was been week to week.”
Ricketts was indeed training with the team Wednesday wearing a brace on his thumb. Among Ricketts’ six saves against Vancouver, several of them were of the exceptional variety including one that has been nominated for MLS Save of the Week.
“He’s been managing it well, he’s been performing well and you probably didn’t even know it’s been an issue,” Porter said. “But it has been week to week, so it’s certainly something we’ve had to have been aware of. … It’s never been issue for us where we were wondering if he would play.”
But the Timbers do have a handful of other injuries to key players that could affect Sunday’s lineup.
Attacking midfielder Diego Valeri, who has been dealing with an abductor strain, suffered a “setback” the day before the Vancouver game and played just 23 minutes after coming off the bench. That same injury prevented him from starting against Chivas USA and Toronto in early September, and he didn’t train Wednesday.
“We managed him like we managed him against Chivas and Toronto, we had him available and we inserted him obviously because we felt we needed to insert him,” Porter said. “And hopefully this week he’s in a situation where he can play more.”
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And forward Darlington Nagbe, who took the team lead in Sunday’s game with his ninth goal of the season before coming out in the 86th minute after a hard tackle, did train Wednesday and is “day-to-day,” Porter said.
The Timbers are also dealing with the absence of forward Rodney Wallace, who was called away for international duty with Costa Rica, along with forward Ryan Johnson (Jamaica) meaning backup forwards Kalif Alhassan, who started Sunday for the injured Valeri, and Jose Valencia could be in the mix for playing time.
“We will do what we’ve been doing all year when guys have been gone or guys have been injured,” Porter said.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.