WAYNE, Pa. – Frenetic pace highlighted day three of Union preseason training at YSC Sports.
Nearly 200 fans witnessed crunching tackles and good attacking movement at Wednesday’s open training session.
“The first three days they were buzzing, they were very good,” said Union manager Peter Nowak. “The group was excellent. Of course, they’re going to get tired, you know? There’s a lot of work that needs to be done this week from different perspectives.”
The team started Wednesday’s session in two separate groups. Younger players worked on short passing and square balls. Veteran players worked on one-touch layoffs and direct long balls.
Coach John Hackworth watched over the veteran side, putting the players through 6v6 possession drills. Both sides then went five-a-side, with a “plus one” attacking player. Freddy Adu was the plus-one pivot in the middle, playing quality one-touch passes to fullbacks Sheanon Williams and Porfirio López on the flanks.
“It’s typical preseason. First few days, everyone’s flying around real fast, but the speed of thought isn’t quite there yet,” explained veteran midfielder Brian Carroll. “Once we get that speed of thought (aligned) with what guys want to do physically, I think it’ll gel a lot better. But the intensity is good, and the passion is good. I think it’ll prepare us well for getting down to Florida.”
After small-sided drills, the team played a full-field scrimmage with goalkeepers Zac MacMath and trialist Chase Harrison, who signed with the club last year but has yet to re-sign after his contract option wasn't picked up.
Zach Pfeffer and Gabriel Gómez were involved in the collision of the day, a robust challenge for a 50/50 ball in the midfield. Gómez won the ball after a second scrap, but both players were assertive and influential in the center of the pitch.
Third-year forward Jack McInerney scored on MacMath after a nice stutter-step move in open space. Both sides showed creative ideas on the attack, but on day three of preseason training, the final pass and final product often were not there.
“In Florida we’ll try to individualize the training, going over formations, positions – getting down the singular stuff that’s important for them to understand,” added Nowak. “In the second camp, we’re going to try to glue this together and make it look like a team. I think the forwards, the young strikers especially, we’re going to put an emphasis on that, work on that. The back line is very stable and experienced. Then you go to the midfield line where you have a lot of creativity, and the strikers – we’ll see. We’re going to put a lot of emphasis on working individually with them, be it left wing, right wing, central striker and so on. They’ll know what to do and we’ll get this thing together.”
The team is incorporating a number of new players this year. López and Gómez looked extremely comfortable at left back and central midfield, respectively. 21-year-old forward Josué Martinez, who was signed from Deportivo Saprissa in the offseason, showed natural ability going forward and adds to an already strong stable of young strikers.
Danny Califf was frank regarding his concerns over team chemistry. But he reassured reporters that he’s confident in his team’s potential.
“I think coming in and meeting these guys and seeing their personalities, I’m definitely not nearly as worried as I was coming in,” said the Union center back. “I think the guys we’ve brought in are quality individuals and they’re going to make our team stronger. I’m excited about it.”