Portland Timbers training
Courtesy of the Portland Timbers

MLS Preseason Tracker: Portland Timbers' intrasquad scrimmage, Desert Diamond Cup reactions (Feb. 20)

The intensity is gradually ratcheting up as MLS preseason training continues at a variety of locations around the world. Catch all the other news and updates from MLS training camps below. And for the entire February preseason schedule, click here.

MATHIS SHOWS OFF FINISHING SKILLS: Clint Mathis has still got it – sort of.

The freshly minted Chicago Fire assistant coach showed off his volleying skills at the end of the team’s Thursday training session in Tucson, Ariz., and it was all captured on video (below) and posted to Chicago-Fire.com. He didn’t hit them all, but it wasn’t a bad display for the 37-year-old former US international.

Although it wasn’t quite on par with the one he scored just four games into his stay with Hannover 96 in 2004. You can also read about how Mathis ended up on the Fire technical staff here

TIMBERS SCRIMMAGE: A small group of Portland Timbers season ticket holders got their first look of 2014 at the club Wednesday in an 80-minute intrasquad scrimmage at Providence Park.

The Timbers are back in the Rose City after a nearly two-week camp in Tucson, Ariz., prepping for the upcoming four-team Rose City Invitational that kicks off Sunday. The scrimmage featured full uniforms and referees.

The first team won 2-0. Highlights and head coach Caleb Porter talking about the scrimmage are included in the video below:

HOUSTON HOUND PITTSBURGH: Paced by two goals from Giles Barnes, the Houston Dynamo continued their promising preseason with a 4-1 thrashing of USL PRO side Pittsburgh Riverhounds at the Houston Amateur Sports Park on Wednesday.

Colorado Rapids loanee Tony Cascio opened the scoring with an instinctive backheeled finish that is worth watching more than once (play occurs at the 0:45 mark of the highlights video below). Omar Cummings added a curling fast-break finish that also bodes well for Houston.

At least the Riverhounds got to glimpse some of the talent that will be available to them through the two clubs' new affilliate agreement. The Orange will loan at least four players to the 'Burgh this year.  The Dynamo now decamp for Charleston, S.C., where they meet D.C. United on Saturday in their first match at the Carolina Challenge Cup.

DEADLOCK IN THE DESERT: Goals were a bit harder to come by in Tucson on Wednesday night, as Real Salt Lake and the New England Revolution played to a 0-0 draw on the opening day of the Desert Diamond Cup.

The Revs have posted a recap on their site, as have RSL, who also compiled a highlights clip (see below). Of note, Joao Plata was sharp up front for Salt Lake and Homegrown goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez made a huge save in the dying minutes to preserve the shutout. 

New England SuperDraft pick Steve Neumann made his debut with a start in midfield alongside Andy Dorman and Lee Nguyen, and Neumann came close to scoring in the first half, while Revs goalkeeper Brad Knighton was one of only a few players to log the full 90 minutes.

FIRE BEAT RAPIDS, CUT TWO: Meanwhile, Chicago got their DDC schedule off to a solid start with a 2-1 defeat of the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday.

First-half goals by trialist Grant Ward and Quincy Amarikwa sent the Men in Red on their way, while the Rapids got a consolation striker from Designated Player Gabriel Torres. Now the question is: will the Fire negotiate a deal for Ward, who returned to English side Tottenham Hotspur today?

This morning Chicago also announced the departure of two players, as Homegrown forward Kellen Gulley and midfielder Brendan King have been waived.

The Fire meet FC Tucson on Saturday (3 pm ET, MLSsoccer.com). 

IMPACT EDGE: The Montreal Impact rode a Sanna Nyassi goal to a 1-0 win over Brazilian club Fluminense's U-23 side in the final game of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic's opening-day tripleheader last night. 

Nyassi was the quickest to reach the rebound following a Hassoun Camara shot:

...though goalkeeper Troy Perkins might have been the busiest of the 21 players fielded by the Canadian side as he made several quality saves to preserve the result:

Montreal boss Frank Klopas sounded pleased with what he saw from his side, who return to game action against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday at 6 pm ET.

DRAW FOR GOATS: Could 2014 be Carlos Alvarez's year to shine? The UConn product scored for Chivas USA as they split the points with FC Tucson in their DDC curtain-raiser on Wednesday, and it was one of the prettier upper-90 blasts of the preseason so far. 

Chivas USA remain undefeated so far under new coach Wilmer Cabrera, who still sees ample room for improvement as the countdown to opening day continues. Up next, the Goats duel New England at 8 pm ET on Saturday.


BUNBURY ARRIVES IN REVS CAMP: Forward Teal Bunbury arrived in New England Revolution camp on Thursday with an enthusiastic thumbs-up following Wednesday's trade from Sporting Kansas City. He is expected to make his first appearance in a Revolution uniform on Saturday, when New England face Chivas USA in Desert Diamond Cup action (8 pm ET, MLSsoccer.com).

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