Daily Doop: Talking points from Wednesday's training session
Call it a "special edition" of the Daily Doop.
Kerith was tied up in the office on Wednesday, but he felt comfortable enough to let me write his column... at least for one day.
I spent the morning at YSC Sports in Wayne, PA, where the team continues preseason training camp.
First things first: It's almost a full house inside the training facility. Danny Cruz and Damani Richards were full participants on Wednesday after missing out on Monday's open training session. Some of our supplemental draft picks, including West Virginia center back Eric Schoenle, have already joined up with the team. Right now the Union have more than 30 players in training camp, including the trialists and new faces that we told you about earlier this week.
SuperDraft picks Stephen Okai and Don Anding were among the first players on the field, warming up with simple passing drills.
The rest of the team joined up a short time later and went through a half hour of stretching, including exercises with an elastic band and short jogging and burst routines to get the blood flowing.
Training started with short passing drills, with the players broken down into groups of three and four. Some of the younger guys played one-touch passes while moving back and forth through a pair of cones. The senior guys began with short layoffs and mid-range lofted balls over 20 and 30 yards.
From there, the drills evolved into 5v5 possession, and 6v6 short-sided games that involved the Union goalkeepers. The energy was high for both of these drills, and the teams rotated several times on three different training fields.
Some personal observances:
1. For being large guys, Bakary Soumare, Conor Casey, and Aaron Wheeler have good feet. They trap well and play short, crisp passes – the type you need to play when you've got your back to goal. Everyone loves a big man with good feet.
2. Amobi Okugo looks like he's in mid-season form. It's almost like he never had a Winter break. Amobi has clearly stood out this week after his breakout season in 2012.
3. John Hackworth is emphasizing that his players improve their weaker foot. There were numerous instances Wednesday where players were only allowed to use their opposite foot during passing drills.
4. Some of the second year guys look more assertive. Ray Gaddis, Antoine Hoppenot, and Greg Jordan looked to go forward and attack in the 6v6 drills, pushing the tempo and driving to goal.
5. Bakary Soumare has a fierce shot. There was one instance on Wednesday where he ripped a 25-yard-drive, and Chris Albright stepped in to get a deflection on the ball with his head. Albright cracked a wry smile after the shot flew over the crossbar and nearly got stuck in the netting above the goal.
Here's what manager John Hackworth told me after the session:
"Another good session. Every session we've been making progress. We've been following our plan and building slowly, piece by piece. The great thing is the mentality, just pure effort on everyone's part to come out and put in an honest day's work, every single time. It's been good. If we can get through the next couple of training sessions without any injuries, and get to Saturday, which is a fitness day, and still follow our progression plan and build up the soccer, then I think that would be fantastic ."
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org