That suited man on the left is Timbers technical director Gavin Wilkinson, gladhanding the team as they file in to meet the media on Tuesday. He presses some flesh, tosses some grins and in my favorite moment (at :28), makes goalkeeper Jake Gleeson flinch in a way only a man can flinch.

Yes, the Timbers held their media day and first official practice on the House of Pane's pitch on Tuesday as excitement mounts for Thursday's home opener against the Chicago Fire.

I hustled over during a jury-duty recess (civil duty, FTW!) and grabbed what I could, which turned out to be a press pass and some shaky videos.

Much more after the jump, including the BIG NEWS of this opener's eve, a quick one-on-one with Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, forward Kenny Cooper's jackhammer jam-session and some high-speed stadium pr0n.

Diego Chará, already clad in green and yellow.
  • Nuevo Estadio
  • Diego Chará, already clad in green and yellow.

First things first — the big news announced today is that the Timbers signed their first-ever designated player, Colombian midfielder Diego Chará. It's a move that's been hinted at for months and gives the identity-seeking midfield a playmaker who excels at maintaining possession and pushing the action. Terms were not disclosed, but The O's Geoffrey C. Arnold noted a report that says Portland paid $2 million for Chara's rights. The Timbers, for their part, are denying that price tag, but there's no denying Chara has some wheels.

Back to Tuesday, which brought hordes of local media to Jeld-Wen Field and saw the team training on their home pitch for the first time. Interviews, awkward questions and stock answers abounded, and the place was looking pretty spiffy even as heavy equipment rang out and the smell of fresh paint permeated.

The end of practice was casual as ever, and forward Kenny Cooper was the last player on the pitch as usual. But before he finished up, the 6-foot-3 Texan put on this booming display in near-perfect-sync with a nearby jackhammer. Seriously.

On my way back to the jury room (we were, ahem, hung), I also nabbed a couple of minutes with Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, who was gracious enough to look past my *high-tech* operation and indulge me with quick interview. He talks up the expected "eye-popping" atmosphere at the House of Pane and bemoans his own lack of soccer skill:

And because you can't get enough high-speed stadium pr0n, I leave you with this, for now:

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