Timbers eager to show new look

Home preseason matches help team build cohesiveness

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

Published:

 

It’s just a preseason match that will soon be forgotten. But for fans of the Portland Timbers, there is plenty of anticipation for today’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes.

The game, which kicks off at 5 p.m. at Jeld-Wen Field, is the first opportunity for local fans to see the team under the direction of new head coach Caleb Porter.

So what should fans look for?

“I think fans should look for the fact that we’re controlling the game. We have a lot more of the possession, we have direction of the play and we’re dictating how the other team is playing,” new outside back Ryan Miller said. “And, when we do lose the ball, we’re focused on winning it back immediately.

“If we’re playing the way we should be playing, we should have most of the ball and hopefully put a few of those in the back of the net,” Miller said.

Porter places a high value on possession as the best way to dictate play.

But the foundation is defense.

“Team shape defensively. Shutouts,” new midfielder Will Johnson said. “We need to make sure that we’re all on the same page.

“It’s pretty easy to tell if you have 11 guys who are just running all over the place. We want to move up together, move back together, and really display a lot of team qualities,” Johnson explained. “I think that’s how you’ll be able to tell we’re playing well.”

Four weeks of training camp will not produce a finished product. But Johnson believes that the Timbers are on track to building the kind of team Porter envisions.

“I think we understand what he wants very well. Implementing what he wants takes a little bit longer,” Johnson said.

In addition to seeing the new plan in action, fans will get their first look at some of the new faces on the roster. They include Johnson and Miller, midfielders Diego Valeri and Ben Zemanski (who joined the team on Friday after being acquired from Chivas USA), and defender Michael Harrington.

Today’s game is part of a preseason tournament that will feature doubleheaders today, Wednesday and Saturday. F.C. Dallas plays Sweden’s AIK at 2:20 p.m. today to kick off the tournament.

Tickets start at $10. The preseason tournament is part of season-ticket packages, but walkup tickets might be available.

Regular-season tickets — Single-game tickets for regular-season home games go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday at Jeld-Wen Field and online through portlandtimbers.com or by calling 888-736-6849.