By Will Conwell
Timbers' Designated Player Undergoing Medical Tests
After joining the Portland Timbers for the first two days of practice, Jose Adolfo Valencia has been undergoing medical testing for the last four days. Characterized as a ¬Å“few red flags¬Â by General Manager Gavin Wilkinson, the Timbers have been emphasizing that they want to take no chances with Valencia's health. Details have been scarce and Major League Soccer's tight lipped information release policy will likely keep things that way until the situation has been resolved.
Having seen Valencia in practice on Tuesday, he seems like a player that would be a huge asset to the Timbers. He is big, fast, and only going to get better with experience. The Timbers front office will certainly be hoping that the most exciting signing of the Timbers off-season does not turn out to be a bust without ever seeing the field.
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First Week of Practice Completed
In the Timbers' first year as a Major League Soccer franchise practicing at the Adidas training facilities, they were limited to largely fitness drills for the first few weeks of practice. This year, with the completion of Jeld-Wen Field, the Timbers have been able to get directly into game situations, incorporating their preseason running into games of keep away and 8v8 or 9v9 scrimmages. The Timbers are also focusing on avoiding injuries in this preseason. Beyond Valencia, homegrown signing Brent Richards has also missed some practice with a tweaked quad. Last season, injuries sustained in preseason were issues that plagued players all year.
The Timbers, as a whole have looked sharp so far this preseason and, as many have remarked, look to have upgraded their speed greatly in the off season. Early on, Bright Dike and Eddie Johnson have impressed in camp up top. If given the chance, both look capable of having outstanding years for the Timbers.
Rodney Wallace continues to impress in camp on the outside, although it is not clear just what position he will play for the Timbers. A left back most of his career, Wallace saw time as a left midfielder near the end of the season for the Timbers. Finally, at the back Jake Gleeson and Troy Perkins are looking good under the tutelage of new keeper coach Mike Toshack who joined the Timbers from Toronto during the winter where he played a large part in molding standout goalie Stefan Frei.
Transfer Rumors Continue
With all the furor surrounding the missing Valencia, the rumors about the Timbers' next signing continue. Juan David Duque continues to be a strong possibility as the Timbers' next signing, but with each passing day the likelihood of him joining up lessens. On the 25th Duque tweeted that he is waiting for a few formalities.
Knowles Added to Coaching Staff
Anyone observing the Timber's practices this last week would have seen a familiar face from the USL era running with the team. Cameron Knowles took part in several practices with the team before being officially named to John Spencer's coaching staff on Thursday. Knowles is one of the USL Timbers' most capped players, appearing 77 times for the club in four seasons and gaining three all-league selections and a defender of the year nomination in the process.
2/5 – 2/17 Timbers train in Los Angeles
2/27 Preseason – Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes
3/1 Preseason – Timbers vs. Chivas USA
3/4 Preseason – Timbers vs. AIK
3/12 Season Opener vs. Philadelphia Union on ESPN2
Will Conwell is an aspiring novelist who spends his free time unloading trucks in warehouses. His passions in life are soccer, beer, and writing, which he has found are best enjoyed in concert. Will can be contacted at email@example.com or on twitter at TimbersPipeline.
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