The first week of preseason training wrapped Friday at YSC Sports.
We could break down all that happened – and still plan on it, but it’s probably better you heard it straight from manager John Hackworth himself.
We caught up with coach Hack after training and here’s what he had to say about the week that was, what to expect going into next week and the skirmish that erupted between forward Antoine Hoppenot and defender Sheanon Williams. Coincidentally, we posted a story on the site earlier today on Hoppenot and his desire to be a nuisance to more than just his teammates.
Well that part is still ongoing considering he and Williams got into it during a 6v6 scrimmage at practice. Both apparently shrugged it off as something that happens during the rigors of preseason training, with Williams seeming fine after practice and when asked Hoppenot replied simply, “It happens.”
Anyway, here’s coach Hack…
“I think it was a really good first week of camp, we accomplished the things that we wanted in this first week. The players’ mentality and their approach to training were excellent, but you know it’s a work in progress. We have built up in our periodization plan progressively going from one day to the next and the things we want to accomplish tactically on the field the same way. We still have a lot of work to do and it’s especially difficult when you have as many guys as we do in camp, so really what you are trying to do is get everyone to understand the way we want to play, attack, defend and transition.”
In regards to whether preseason training will ramp up next week and what his game plan heading into Phase 2 of camp at the NovaCare Complex beginning Monday, Hackworth said:
“Next week is great because we finally get on grass we’ll be able to play 11v11 and that’s obviously very important and the truest test. And it doesn’t get easier it just gets harder, but the guys have handled it great this week; I know they are looking forward to the day off on Sunday, and they need it, the staff needs it (although the staff probably won’t take the day off). But we are really looking forward to getting on grass, don’t get me wrong this is a fantastic surface, but it’s still turf and it’s tough to put as many sessions as we’ve had over this amount of time on a hard surface like this.”
On the scrum between Antoine Hoppenot and Sheanon Williams:
“I don’t mind it at all. Too be honest, I’d be worried if I didn’t see it. Doesn’t mean I want guys throwing haymakers at each other, but it is part of the game, especially when you are competing and when guys are competing there’s going to be certain emotions. At the end of the day it’s about walking off the field and understanding that you leave it all out on the field. I had no problem with it and I think it’s pretty much a part of the game.”
Defensively, the one constant has been the imposing play of Bakary Soumare. It’s only been one week but the difference is obvious what he can do on a healthy knee. We posed the same sentiment to Hackworth who said:
“The fact that he’s healthy is everything. He was able to get through every single session; every single demand that we put on him and that was fantastic. And he’s playing good soccer back there. He’s a presence in the back and he’s playing good soccer, so it’s all great from [the technical staff’s] vantage point.”
Expect even more players to come into camp as the numbers continue to grow. With the exception of defender Jeff Parke U.S. national team duty on and supplemental draft signing Jake Keegan (who is currently in Israel competing in the Maccabi Games), the Union are closing in on 40 players as guys vie for roster spots. Only 18 can make the gameday roster and MLS teams can only keep 32 including two homegrown players on the first team.
Expect a dogfight to not be the odd man out to continue.
Enjoy your weekend, catch you all Monday.
Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org