BEAVERTON, Ore. – Their “second preseason” over, the Portland Timbers return to a normal training schedule this week in preparation for Sunday’s match at the LA Galaxy.
And it’s safe to say the Timbers are eager to get started on a reset to a disappointing first three months of the season.
“It’s a lull in the season, and now you’re really hungry to get back at it and tired of taking lumps out of your teammates,” Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins said Tuesday from the team’s new adidas Timbers Training Center. “So I think the guys are really ready to go.”
Since the Timbers' last game – a disappointing 1-0 loss on May 30 to Cal FC in the US Open Cup – the team has trained hard, approaching the two-week break between MLS games as a “second preseason.” Last week, Portland went through a two-a-day schedule with morning tactical sessions and afternoon scrimmages.
“It was strenuous,” Perkins said. “Two sessions a day and a pretty high intensity, so it was good. We really had a chance to focus on a lot of little things. We were able to get in a lot of crossing and finishing in our tactical sessions in the morning and then play in the afternoon. So from a technical and a managerial standpoint, it was excellent for the coaching staff to have the time to do it.”
As for the team’s focus this week, with an opponent finally on the horizon, a team also looking to turn things around in the Galaxy, Perkins said they’re still putting the emphasis on themselves. Just two points separate the Timbers, currently seventh place in the Western Conference with 13 points from 12 games, and the last-place Galaxy.
“We really haven’t talked too much about them as of yet, but from our standpoint we’re just trying to stay focused on what we’ve been working on,” Perkins said.
International players return
The handful of Timbers players who were called to national team duties during the break are expected to begin filtering back into town throughout the week.
Backup goalkeeper Jake Gleeson (New Zealand), midfielder Lovel Palmer (Jamaica) and defender Steve Purdy (El Salvador) will all have completed their international obligations by Tuesday. Central defender Mamadou “Futty” Danso (The Gambia) has one more match left, a Saturday qualifier against Algeria for the 2013 African Cup of Nations tournament.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.