The Timbers are back to kicking it around the House of Pane this week, as preseason training has jogged into full swing for a Portland team looking to step up and contend in 2012. And all your favorites are here: Capt. Jack Jewsbury (still captain!), Darlington Nagbe (still really, really talented!), Diego Chará (still Diego Chará!).
Even notable offseason additions Jose Adolfo Valencia, Hanyer Mosquera and Andrew Jean-Baptiste were out on the pitch starting Monday morning with the rest of Portland's squad, impressing coach John Spencer with its collective fitness. But Valencia—the team's first-ever young Designated Player better known as "Trencito"—hasn't practiced since Tuesday, remaining out of sight during training Wednesday and Thursday for what the team called "medical testing."
And that probably would've been explanation enough, if not for PTFC owner/president/supporter Merritt Paulson's cryptically angry tweet on Wednesday morning ("Sports can be a cruel, cruel bitch") or Spencer's not-so-funny quip to announcer John Strong during an interview Thursday that even if Valencia was hurt, "I don't think I would be telling you."
OK, so where's Trencito? Theories abound, and hand-wringing is already in midseason form, with Timbers Army's collective worry manifesting itself in the trending hashtag #DóndeEstáTrencito. Here's hoping the 20-year-old Colombian passes every test, and doesn't deal Portland sports fans yet another reason to think they're cursed.
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