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Timbers dealing with absences again

Portland’s Nagbe, Taylor off to play for national teams

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter
Published: May 24, 2016, 5:30pm

BEAVERTON, Ore. — It will be business as usual for Caleb Porter as he prepares his Portland Timbers for Saturday’s match at Chicago — in that the coach must fill vacancies in the lineup.

Darlington Nagbe and Jermaine Taylor have joined their respective national teams in advance of the Copa America Centenario, the championship tournament for the Americas that takes place in June. Nagbe is on the United States roster; Taylor is with Jamaica.

With 10 players who figure in the regular lineup missing games to injury this season, Porter has plenty of experience adjusting his lineup this season.

“We’ve been in this situation every single week. There’s not a team in the league that’s managed more guys out than we have,” Porter said.

“Obviously it makes it a challenge when you’re chopping and your’e adding ever single week. From a consistency and continuity standpoint that’s not the way you want to do it,” he added. “The nice thing is this is nothing new at all for us to manage this. We’ve managed it every game.”

The games lost to injury reached 37 for starters on Sunday. Goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey, right back Alvas Powell and winger Darren Mattocks remain out, and the status of striker Fanendo Adi for the game at Chicago is uncertain. Adi (hamstring strain) did some work on the side Tuesday but did not participate in the full training session. Porter said he would have a better idea about Adi’s status later this week.

In Porter’s view. Nagbe — who scored his first goal of the season on Sunday — played his best two games of the season since shifting to the left wing against New York City FC and Vancouver. He is hoping Nagbe can earn a starting spot with the national team during Copa America.

“That’s up to him when he gets into the camp to earn that. But I’d love to see him get his first start in the U.S. uniform,” Porter said.

Open Cup draw — The Timbers will play back-to-back matches against the San Jose Earthquakes at Providence Park — a MLS contest on June 1 and the U.S. Open Cup fourth-round match on June 14. That match will be part of a doubleheader, with Timbers 2 hosting Seattle Sounders 2 at 4:30 p.m. followed by the Timbers-Quakes at 7:30 p.m. One ticket gets admission to both matches, and the games are included in the Timbers’ season-ticket package.

Tickets go on sale Thursday, following a Wednesday presale for season-ticket holders of the Timbers (and those on the waiting list), T2 and Portland Thorns.

This is the second year in a row that Portland enters the Open Cup against a MLS rival. The other 15 U.S.-based MLS clubs face lesser-division opponents to begin their Open Cup participation.

“On the good side of things we get that game after the break,” Porter said of the almost two weeks between the matches against San Jose. “On the bad side of things, you can’t perhaps rotate out (players) like you would in these early (Open Cup) games like you would if you were playing an NASL team. But I also do want to get some guys a run in that game. … We need to use it as an opportunity to get some guys game minutes as well.”

Porter said in terms of importance he rates the upcoming CONCACAF Champions League matches as on par with competing in MLS, while the Open Cup he views as a slightly lower priority.

Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter