Daily Doop: Strong sessions, Zipping around the Zoo and some unveilings

Monday's installment of all things Union

DELTONA, Fla. – Hate to rub in the fact that it was another beautiful morning at the Dewey O. Boster Sports Complex…but it was another beautiful morning here in Deltona.

The players have trained every day since arriving in Deltona and while total effort and work rate was evident, also evident was that the guys could use a vital rest day, which they received courtesy of a team bonding trip.

But we’ll get to that in a bit…

The players started off outfitted with the adidas MiCoach system as strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller monitored the speed, heart rate and distance covered of each player. Following a warm-up session, a possession drill that followed along the lines of the same principles preached Sunday: short, short and then long to relieve pressure.

This writer’s personal favorite drill was a 4v4 exercise in which the player starting out with the ball was supposed to run toward defenders at pace and either create space for a shot from distance or play a pass wide to the flanks, and work it in from the corners. Defenders who broke up the play were allowed to counter.

And though the goals were only spaced about 15-20 yards apart, this was the drill that showed some fatigue the most as it again wasn’t as much the build-up as it was finishing.

Finally, the team broke off into an 11v11 scrimmage that lasted about 30 minutes.

There were definitely great highlights to take away from today’s practice session:

  • Goalkeeper Chase Harrison was extremely tough to beat. A tall presence, Harrison looked especially strong on balls coming in hard and low to the ground and smothered a ton of chances in front of net before they became dangerous.
  • In the full field scrimmage, Danny Cruz did get the better of Harrison with a rocket from about 25 yards out. Cruz’ scrimmage teammate Sebastien Le Toux did well to get to a ball played through but had his attempt to beat a defender ricochet directly to Cruz who buried it.
  • It didn’t amount to a goal but Sheanon Williams played about a 30-35 yard pass that split two defenders right into the stride of scrimmage teammate Jack McInerney. Williams has always been good at using his body to stave off pressure, but was especially good in doing so in playing that ball to Jack Mac.
  • CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz was on hand to observe the session. What was cool was watching Sakiewicz chase a few balls that rolled away from the playing surface. Still quite nimble on the touch and turn, Nick, we definitely noticed.

With the afternoon off, the team embarked on a bonding exercise, visiting the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford, Players and the technical staff hit the Zoom Air Adventure Park, and took a zipline tour of the park’s facilities. The picture on the right is of Union manager John Hackworth getting some air time.

And why Zoom Air might you ask?

"We thought they would enjoy a change of pace," said Tina Batten, Zoom Air administrator. "It's an opportunity to introduce the Union to some of the fun available near their spring training home, and a chance for more of the community to find out about another major league team that migrates to Central Florida in the spring. Zoom Air owners Olivier Petit and Michel Smith are lifelong sports enthusiasts, and very happy to see soccer's popularity in the United States on the rise."

Couple of things…

As we told you Sunday, every issue of “The Daily Doop!” this week will coincide with a daily video, providing further insight from a players or coaches perspective. Today’s video is defender Bakary Soumare, who continues to look very solid in practice. In this edition Soumare talks Florida, the rotation in central defense and his personal outlook on 2013.

Also, earlier Monday morning we announced the "Meet the Team" event taking place on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at XFinity Live! in South Philadelphia. The event is part of MLS’ “Jersey Week” and month long “March to Soccer” campaign. The Union is one of 12 teams unveiling a new kit. Here’s more information and a list of all the teams doing a uniform upgrade.

Last but definitely not least…

We struck a shared content deal with the folks at Philly.com to link some of our content to their site as we collectively look to ramp up soccer coverage in the region. This is Day 1 of what we hope blossoms into a great partnership with one of the premier news websites in the City of Philadelphia. Philly.com Sports has been eager to heighten the awareness of soccer throughout the region, a notion which makes us all very excited.

With that said, in addition to philadelphiaunion.com, you can also find a link to “The Daily Doop!” on the philly.com/sports site.

All good things; we’ll catch you tomorrow.

Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com