Now that the calendar has officially flipped to March, the countdown to First Kick continues, moving ever closer.
March 25, to be exact, at Qwest Field against Seattle Sounders FC.
With that landmark date looming larger every day, Philadelphia Union’s technical staff realizes how much work must be done between now and then.
That’s exactly what is going on during the club’s training sessions in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“We’re doing well,” Philadelphia Union Team Manager Peter Nowak was saying during a break on Monday. “The weather is great, the guys are adjusting and everything is moving along. We have a lot of work to do over the next three-plus weeks before we play Seattle. We’re keeping things as simple as possible and not speeding up the game too much yet.
“We have a lot to focus on and we’re getting better every day. The players are starting to execute what we’re looking for.”
Philadelphia Union and Chivas De Guadalajara played to a 2-2 tie in a Sunday training session at Chivas’ training facilities. Philadelphia Union will next have a training session with Tecos UAG (Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara) on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. ET.
The physical aspects of the training are obviously difficult. Playing together for the first time and preparing for the 2010 Major League Soccer season is also tough.
Nowak believes the team chemistry will continue to build.
“I think it’s more of a mental challenge than anything,” Nowak said. “It’s being out of your comfort zone. Playing against better competition will be good. Getting that mental preparation where you need it every day is a challenge. I think the soccer part is going to be good. The younger players especially have been away for a while, and the mental part can be tough. I think the players are doing a very good job handling everything so far.”
Since the initial training sessions at The Healthplex in Springfield, Pa., Philadelphia Union’s players have pushed forward with a rigorous plan stressing conditioning and physical fitness. That regimen continued in Greensboro, N.C., and into Guadalajara.
“I have been very pleased with the players’ fitness, and I think it will keep improving,” Nowak said. “We will keep working on the technical part every practice, and I think we will be ready to go by the opener.”
Speaking of the opener, it’s hard to fathom that Philadelphia Union will be playing a regular-season game in slightly more than three weeks.
Guess what? You can believe it.
“The first game will be easy to play because of the energy and the excitement of the whole day,” Nowak said. “From my perspective, we have so much to do here and then in Tampa before we play Seattle Sounders FC. It’s going to be soccer 24-7 from here on out. I think if we keep that mentality, everything going forward will work itself out.”