Timbers Notes: Injuries mount, three starters depart for national team duty, and more

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BY MIKE DONOVAN

BEAVERTON, Ore.- When asked by a reporter this week if he has ever been around a team with so many injuries, head coach Caleb Porter replied with a simple “probably not.”

While every team faces injuries throughout the season, the Timbers are currently faced with the reality of having nearly a third of their 30-man roster dealing with injuries. Add international callups and suspensions to the mix and it seems Portland might struggle to find 18 players for their upcoming Saturday match with Toronto FC.

“It’s challenging, but we can’t do anything about the guys who are out,” Porter said. “I quickly just turn my focus to the guys who are in.”

The latest injury occurred in Friday’s 4-2 loss at Real Salt Lake when Argentine DP Diego Valeri had to be removed from the match after sustaining an adductor injury. While Porter is holding out hope that Valeri will be able to take the field Saturday, it seems unlikely.

“I hope that he will be (ready), but I think it’s probably 50-50 at this point and that’s probably pushing it to be honest with you,” Porter said, before adding that Jack Jewsbury and Frederic Piquionne are also probably “50-50″ at best for Saturday.

On Monday, it was also announced that Ryan Miller, who had made seven appearances in 2013, will miss the remainder of the season with a stress fracture in his leg. The 28-year-old outside back was signed from Swedish side Halmstads BK in the offseason and provided much-needed depth at the fullback position.

“I don’t dwell on it, because there is nothing you can do about it,” Porter said. “I could sit around my office all day long and bang my head against the wall and think about “wow, we’re in a tough situation,” but I move on from adversity quickly because it is what it is and I’ve dealt with it for the last 13 years of coaching.”

Will Johnson, who has missed the club’s last four matches, has returned for full training and is hopeful of a Saturday return. Ben Zemanski, who has started for Johnson, is suspended for the TFC match due to the red card he received against RSL.

The club is also hoping that Bright Dike, David Horst, and Futty Danso will be able to return to action with the first team soon after playing for the reserves Saturday against RSL’s second side. Dike tore the ACL in his left knee during the preseason and could provide the Timbers with some much needed depth at forward. Horst, meanwhile, is returning from a broken leg he suffered in April and will provide centerback depth when he returns.

No matter who is on the field, Porter is happy with his club’s attitude despite being in the midst of their first losing streak of the season.

“Every time we come to the pitch after some adversity, it further reenforces the team we have,” Porter said. “A lot of times if you have a broken team or things start to slip, it’s a terrible session after a loss because guys are negative. These guys aren’t happy, but they’re not negative.”

JAMAICA CALLUPS LEAVE TIMBERS WITH EVEN LESS DEPTH

Three players that the Timbers will definitely be without Saturday are all-star goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, co-leading scorer Ryan Johnson, and right back Alvas Powell, who were all called up for Jamaica’s next two World Cup qualifiers. The trio is expected to be back for Portland’s Sept. 14th match with Chivas USA.

Friday’s match with Panama will mark the debut match for Jamaica head coach Winfried Schafer.

“It’s a new coach, he’s trying to make a mark and he wants to get some results here,” Porter said. “I put myself in his shoes, I’d probably do the same thing. Obviously we are not happy about it but at the end of the day, it is what it is. Other teams are dealing with it too.”

Powell’s absence combined with injuries to Miller and Jewsbury leave a gaping hole at the right back position. The most likely candidates to start Saturday are Sal Zizzo, who hasn’t started this year for Portland but did score a goal on Friday, and Rodney Wallace, who could play left back with Michael Harrington shifting to the right.

TIMBERS SISTER CLUB WINS IT ALL

The Portland Thorns, who were the only NWSL club this year owned by a MLS franchise, were crowned league champions Saturday after knocking off the Western New York Flash 2-0 Saturday. Their title is the city’s second professional championship and was noted by Porter after practice Monday.

“I think it’s great for the city and great for women’s soccer in the country,” Porter said.

Porter also spoke of the the reception the team received following its victory. The club had hundreds of fans waiting at the airport for their return, were honored by the city council, and held a celebration at Jeld-Wen Field for supporters.

Despite sharing Jeld-Wen Field with a championship team, Porter doesn’t believe there is a bigger burden on the Timbers.

“There’s always pressure on me and on us. We like it that way,” Porter said. “Just think if we win a trophy. This place will blow up.”

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19 Responses to Timbers Notes: Injuries mount, three starters depart for national team duty, and more

  1. Kevin says:

    Win a trophy? Not even going to make the playoffs.

    • Come on Kevin says:

      Yeah, THIS year is the ONLY chance at a trophy.

      Oh, and MLS Cup is the only trophy an MLS team can win.

      I agree with you.

      • Kevin says:

        Well… if you read the rest of the interview, it certainly seems as though he was discussing this year. Timber whining about injuries and national team call ups are all complaints specific to this season.

        But hey, why not read into it that he was day dreaming of far off championships. I can see it now, Caleb Porter, kicked back in his hemp office chair, Chaco sandals up on his sustainably reclaimed desk, wistfully stroking his beard (he’ll have one by then), dreaming of MLS Cups and Supporters Shields to bring back to the Rose City, where they can be presented to the Timber’s Army, clad in shimmering flannel, with gigantic gauges in their ears…

        • Chance says:

          But the trophy talk about the reception the Thorns got when they returned home. His point was that, the thorns have huge support, and the Timbers have even more, so if they won a trophy the reception would be staggering. Porter is a smart man, he hasn’t deluded himself about winning a trophy this year. It’s still possible and I’m sure he believes that, but he knows Portland is not a front runner for a trophy.

  2. Falls City Outlaw says:

    I’m kind of tired of hearing MLS coaches say they’re not happy about National team call-ups. Don’t they want players who are talented enough to play internationally? Otherwise, it’s MLS who chooses not to honor the international break. These are FIFA calendar breaks!

    • barkdog says:

      There’s no calendar break. That’s why there’s a conflict. Derp.

      • Falls City Outlaw says:

        And whose fault is that? MLS knows the FIFA breaks. Every other top-flight league doesn’t schedule games against them for this reason.

  3. Cairo says:

    I think Portland is a solid team, but they are also the most overrated team this season. People rave at their “turnaround” but 12 ties is not the mark of a team that’s going to win it all. They’ve only won 9 games, tied with Columbus, Dallas and the Quakes in this category, and ahead of only Toronto, DC United, and Chivas USA. There is nothing impressive about that stat. They may squeak into the playoffs as a 5th seed (I think Colorado will finish 4th), but they aren’t going to last long if they get there. I doubt they get past the Rapids, and we’ve seen how they struggle against RSL, their likely 2nd round opponent. Way too much attention is paid to this team, I guess because of their fan support…

    • Gary Page says:

      Last year they finished second to last with a total of 34 points and a goal differential of -22. This year they are fifth, already have 39 points and their goal differential is +9. I Consider that to be a significant improvement.

      • RB says:

        Sure, but his points still stand and I agree. Colorado also finished out of the playoffs and near the bottom last year, just 1 place and 3 pts ahead of Portland, and have had as much injury trouble this year as Portland has had. Yet just try to get that point noticed or get the Rapids into the discussion like Portland is, or to get Pareja’s name into talk about coach of the year anyhere near the way Porter’s is thrown around.

        Whether it’s because of the fan base or just what, I don’t know, but yes, disproportionally too much attention is paid to this team.

        • Ben says:

          So much attention is paid to PTFC because it is in the Pacific Northwest and holds a fierce rivalry with other teams from the soccer-rich region. It is also due to the fact that the team has been around for quite awhile and survived multiple leagues. That doesn’t even get into the avid support if the city and its inhabitants. Any long-term success of the league depends on teams like the Timbers and Sounders and their fans. A ton of fans means a ton if coverage. As far as the turn-around; pretty stellar considering where the team was last year with an interim coach/GM that nobody trusted or believed in. Turning losses into draws is a big deal for a club that only won one on the road last season.

          • RB says:

            “As far as the turn-around; pretty stellar considering where the team was last year with an interim coach/GM that nobody trusted or believed in.”

            Yes, that’s exactly what I mean about the Rapids!

            Oh, wait — you’re talking Portland still, there?

            It’s just that again, both teams have had such turnarounds from last season to this one, in such similar circumstances, and yet (as in your comment there) the focus or the assumption in that regard seems to be that that somehow only applies to Portland…

            Appreciate the help making the point.

    • Twomilerule says:

      Cairo, you are right they have only lost once by more than a goal and that loss was over 45 with a man down. Timbers really play a boring brand of possession soccer. Caleb Porter is full of excuses and a whiner. It is always an easy 90 when any team plays the Timbers.
      Always easy to beat a team when they are down and literally down to 15 for Saturday.

      • Adi from Oregon says:

        Spain is the current WC holder and if Porter and the Timbers play their style (possession) they ALSO WILL be successful as Spain continues to be. Porter also uses very good defensive team pressure to obtain the ball & to protect the goal. Now if the Timbers owner would spend some extra money to get a proven goal scorer they would have a chance to go all the way.

      • jimmy says:

        Not sure what you mean by ‘whiner’ as every interview he’s given he explicitly states that there are no excuses. He has always accepted full responsibility and has fostered an attitude of confidence in the locker room.

    • Brian says:

      Your comments here are a bit hilarious. Colorado’s remaining schedule looks like this: @LAG, vs FCD, @PDX, vs SEA, @SJ, vs VAN, @VAN. They are lucky to catch LAG on an international week, but getting points there will still be hard. FCD is down but not out, at Portland is a loss if Portland is healthy, hosting Seattle is likely another loss as the Sounders push for trophy, and playing in San Jose is always hard (see their home wins over LAG, Seattle, Portland, and SKC this year). I look at this and wonder if Colorado can pick up more than 8 or 9 points.

      Portland, on the other hand, have vs TOR, @CHV, vs COL, vs LAG, @VAN, vs SEA, vs RSL, @CHV. The two games at Chivas and the home versus Toronto this weekend should be 9 points (and if it isn’t the Timbers are what you say they are). After that they can still get points from Colorado, possibly at Vancouver, and the three remaining home games versus the best teams in the west.

      • RB says:

        Guessing you may be replying to me? Because it doesn’t seem like anyone else is really discussing Colorado.

        OTOH, you’re not addressing the points in my comparison but talking i instead about schedule and trying to project future results. And at that, even if you’re right about those, my comparison and the point (agreeing that disproportionate attention is paid to Portland) would remain valid.

        But I guess I’m glad if you think something here is hilarious.

  4. DUDEEROO says:

    Caleb Porter is a class guy. I talked to him briefly, very briefly, after the RSL reserve game. I told him that I thought Portland plays good soccer, but he said they needed to score 3 more goals. We were both right.

    He appeared to be rather nice for just having lost two times in less than 15 hours.

  5. RPM says:

    Timbers traded with San Jose today to get Brad Ring, who can play a few different positions.