portland timbers head coach john spencer is scrambling to fill injury absences
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Timbers training tense as Spencer may shake things up

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Timbers training has felt different in the last couple of days.

Whether it’s the prospect of facing the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center on Saturday (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), the readiness to shake off a three-game losing streak or both, the Timbers are a little salty these days.

“We’re really motivated for this matchup,” Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins said after Thursday’s training session (the team had Wednesday off). “There’s an edge, for one. Guys are working a lot harder, a lot more is being said by the coaching staff about what is expected of the guys.”

Perkins confirmed that, yes, facing the Galaxy and their talent-laden roster always gets the blood boiling. He also said there is angst among the group stemming mostly from the team’s poor performance last Saturday against Chivas USA.

The veteran ‘keeper said there’s also a realization, made clear by Timbers boss John Spencer, that nobody’s spot is safe and the starting XI that will face LA will have earned it during the week.

“John is a guy who is not going to make that decision, he’s going to let the players make that decision for themselves with their play in training,” Perkins said.

Needless to say, that urgency has shown through in the three workouts the team has had since the loss.

“There’s a lot of intensity, guys get a really chippy, but it’s good,” Perkins said. “There’s an edge to the team.”

Spencer, as is his policy, didn’t tip his hat at any lineup changes. But he did note that a number of previously injured players are coming into improved health, most notably midfielders Franck Songo’o, Kalif Alhassan and Sal Zizzo.

“The game’s always easy and always simple for everyone watching and everybody that’s coaching when you’re winning,” Spencer said. “Everybody is a genius when you’re losing. Everybody is full of opinions of what you should do and what you shouldn’t do. But we know what we’ve got in this squad. We know the quality we’ve got here.”

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

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