PORTLAND, Ore. – The anticipation of the coming 2011 MLS season will rise to a new level this week for the Portland Timbers, who will play historic Northwest rivals Seattle and Vancouver on Friday and Saturday at the Cascadia Summit in Tukwila, Wash.
The Timbers completed the first of three days of practice in cold, drizzly conditions Tuesday at Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District in Beaverton, Ore.
Coach John Spencer relishes any chance to play these days.
“It doesn’t matter who we play against,” Spencer said. “I’ve said this time and time again, we’ve got to beat more than Seattle and the Whitecaps to be successful. Of course, they’re very good games to play and there’s going to be a great time with three sets of fans in Seattle. It’s going to give guys a little sampler of what the Pacific Northwest is all about.”
The area has been hit with a barrage of late winter storms the past week and the forecast for the Cascadia Summit is for additional blustery Northwest weather.
That will matter little to soccer fans from Oregon to British Columbia who are eager to see what these teams look like on the field together. Spencer said he was leaning toward splitting his squad into two – one group to play Friday night and the other Saturday.
“I would like to see guys start to go the full 90,” Spencer said. “We’ll probably have two separate 11s.”
[inline_node:296134]Jewsbury Joins Up
Defender Jack Jewsbury (at right), who was acquired via trade on Tuesday from Sporting Kansas City, is expected to join the Timbers for practice on Wednesday.
“It’s a very good signing for us,” Spencer said. “He’s a player with tremendous quality. He’s a very experienced MLS player and gives us a little bit of depth and experience that we’ll need for the season.”
Jewsbury fits the profile of the kind of player the Timbers want.
“We need to sign guys who know what the league’s all about and what the travel’s all about,” Spencer said.
Trialist Tony McManus, meanwhile, has left the training camp. Spencer said it was the player's decision.
The Timbers remain undefeated through five preseason games, although four of the matches have ended in draws.
“If you’re not losing games you’ve always got a chance of winning them,” Spencer said. “I think we’ve adopted a defensive mentality. I know it’s only spring training games, but we’re playing against the top players in the league like the Landons, Juan Pablo Angels, Brian Chings and Kei Kamaras.
"We’ve kept them quiet and that’s something we can build on. We know during the season they’re going to ramp up their intensity, and then we’ll find out if we can step up to a different level.”