New York Red Bulls

21 July 9:24 am

Today, the longest running tournament in the United States continues as the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals continue as the New York Red Bulls host the Union at 4 p.m. in Harrison, N.J. and the Houston Dynamo visit Sporting Kansas City at 7:30 p.m.

The final quarterfinal game is Orlando City SC traveling to Illinois to take on the Chicago Fire on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

With all of that said, here are some quick notes about each game:

Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy

First things first, the RSL-Galaxy game. This game was played a week before every other quarterfinal, kicking off on July 14 in Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah. The only thing of particular note in this game was that it was Steven Gerrard’s competitive debut with the Galaxy, coming on as a sub in the second half. The game would go almost 90 minutes before Aaron Maund scored the 87th minute header that gave RSL the 1-0 lead and ended up being the only goal in the game.

RSL will now take on the winner of Central bracket which will either be the Houston Dynamo or Sporting KC.

New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union, 4 p.m.

The Union look to continue their run to a second straight Open Cup final. Full game preview here.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo, 7:30 p.m.

In this matchup between two Western Conference opponents, we see a tale of two teams. One team, the Dynamo, have struggled to find a consistent form all season but managed to beat the Colorado Rapids 1-0 in order to advance to the Open Cup quarterfinals. On the other hand, Sporting KC is one of the best teams in the MLS, winning seven of their last eight games through all competitions, including a 6-2 stomping of FC Dallas that saw them lead 5-0 at one point in the second half while forward Dom Dwyer finished the game with four goals. Tuesday’s game will be a tough task for Houston, especially since they are playing in Kansas City.

Chicago Fire vs. Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m.

Orlando City SC will fly up to Chicago on Wednesday to take on the Fire as they look to advance in their first U.S. Open Cup as an MLS team. Chicago has a deep history with the Open Cup, winning in 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006 while finishing as runner-ups in 2004 and 2011. Chicago was one of the two MLS teams that played lower division opponents in the Round of 16, the other being the New York Red Bulls. They beat the Charlotte Independence 3-1 behind a brace from Mike Magee. As for Orlando, they beat the Columbus Crew SC 2-0 on June 30 with goals from Kaka and Carlos Rivas.

20 May 4:53 pm

Press Conference Recap:

This week, Conor Casey took to the podium as the star of the player press conference. Here are some of the best parts of his presser:

On playing a full 90 minutes on Sunday:

It was great, you know, first and foremost just to get the win. And to play it was definitely a grueling 90. A little bit sore but definitely excited to play, excited to win, and looking forward to this weekend.

I mean practices has been good, they’ve been sharp a couple months now. So I think the fitness, if you can get that good base fitness in practice then in the game, its kind of a different animal. Getting those minutes on the field will definitely help to push the fitness.

On playing the New York Red Bulls and their high pressure style this weekend:

It doesn’t effect my playing style as a forward that much. I think that we understand that they’re playing quite a bit different then they did last year, in terms of their pressing. It will be something that we’ll certainly have to deal with, especially since we’re playing there, but you know I think my job individually remains the same in terms of just trying to work hard, hold the ball up, and score.
After Casey spoke, head coach Jim Curtin held his weekly presser. Here are some highlights:

On playing the Red Bulls on Sunday:

It doesn’t get any easier for us having to go to New York, a rival game. New York will certainly be a tough task, a team that’s in very good form, a tam that high presses all over the field. I think the team that has the best midfield in the league going right now between Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan, and Felipe. A team that, if I’m being honest, gave us a lot of issues in the preseason even though the scoreline in that game was very much in our favor They created a ton and were very good against us. A team we respect, a team we know is going to be good, a coach I know in Jesse Marsch. Anytime you go on the road in this league its difficult to get wins but that’s going to have to be our task.

On preparing for the Red Bulls:

Yesterday was more of a regeneration day. We pushed the group that didn’t get a lot of time. Today we focused on dealing with, because their three midfielders are so comfortable on the ball and versatile, they have a way of really getting forward and creating a numbers advantage in the midfield. Lloyd Sam is another underrated player that is having a great year, that can come inside, can beat you one on one outside. They a tendency to outnumber you in midfield. That’s something that we worked on today, dealing with the extra number, its not so much man to man, its more about guys looking around, cutting off passing lanes, and doing their job, sometimes dealing with two guys and doing that in a smart way. With their high press they put their defenders on islands and they ask them to make tough one on one plays and they’ve a very good job. Their backline has done a  great job of making those individual efforts because they do press so high and put a lot into making you turn the ball

22 July 11:35 am

When it comes to training, people like to debate about what is the best way to increase an athlete’s power and explosiveness. Some people believe Olympic lifting is the best tool to increase an athlete’s power output. Others believe CrossFit or kettlebell training are the most effective way at increasing an athlete’s power. We can argue this point all day long and the reality is I don’t believe that there is one single way to increase your power. However, I do believe that there is a very effective tool for athletes to use when it comes to increasing power output and that tool is a medicine ball.

Most coaches know that in order to increase power a lot of factors must go into the equation. Here are just a few of the things that we need to do in order to increase power output:

  • Increase your force into the ground.
  • Increase total body strength.
  • Increase the speed of movement.
  • Ensure proper alignment while we train.
  • Focus on ways to properly decelerate our body.
  • Maintain proper breathing patterns.
  • The ability to stabilize under load.

As much as I like Olympic lifting and kettlebell training, I believe the best tool for teaching power output  at the beginning of a training program is to use a medicine ball. A few reasons why I prefer to use a medicine ball at the beginning of an athlete’s training program are:

  • For most people throwing an object comes natural.
  • It’s fun. People like to throw things and this gives them the license to throw an object as hard as possible once they have good form.
  • It’s safe. Instead of lifting a weight over your head with the fear of dropping it on your head a medicine ball is a great tool to teach the mechanics of several more advanced lifts.
  • You can take the medicine ball anywhere and train on your own.
  • With this one tool I can work on speed, power, deceleration, change of direction, endurance, proprioception and mobility.

These are just a few examples of why I like to use medicine balls in a training program. The reality is a number of elite athlete’s use these in their everyday training program. As I stated above, I use this at the beginning of a training program with new athletes, however, elite athletes use these daily for incredible results.

When it comes to training with medicine balls there are so many exercises to choose from. You are only limited by your imagination. Below are five exercise video clips that I have put together for you to review. As always ensure that you use proper form and start slow. If you have any pain (shoulder, back, etc.) back off of these exercises and consult with a medical professional.

Medicine ball introduction

Medicine ball squat to overhead throw-tutorial

Lateral lunge to shotput-tutorial

Skate hop continous w/ medicine ball throw-tutorial

Crow hop w/ med ball throw-tutorial

Regardless of your sport medicine ball training is a fantastic way to increase your power. Athletes from every sport can benefit from the rotational power as well as well the increase in aerobic output that they will see from this type of training. If you have kids this is a great way to slowly introduce them to the world of training. I guarantee that if you start slow and use a very light medicine ball kids will enjoy this type of training. Adults, if you are looking to drop a few pounds or increase your running speed implement medicine ball training into your routine.


Have a question for Union strength coach Kevin Miller? Leave it in the comments below.