As customary "Daily Doop" writer Kerith Gabriel continues to be under the weather, I’ll continue to run point, and provide the latest on the Union in this edition.
The Union trained inside the NovaCare Complex bubble for a second straight morning, due to the soggy conditions on the outdoor grass field. However, the team did make it outside for the afternoon session.
It's the first time this preseason that the guys have trained outdoors.
There were a few players who sat out the morning session, including Bakary Soumare, Aaron Wheeler, and Chris Konopka. Manager John Hackworth assured media members that there were no significant injuries to report. Konopka picked up a knock last week while Soumare and Wheeler were given a break from the artificial surface.
Hackworth, on Soumare:
"Today was his first time (sitting) out. But he's really good, he's been in every session. When we play so many consecutive days on a hard surface like the turf, some of the older guys in particular you just don't want them get them hurt. But 'Baky' was precautionary more than anything to leave him out of today's session."
Hackworth also held his weekly press conference today, and he dished on some of the key topics currently surrounding the preseason.
On whether Amobi Okugo will play center back or central midfield:
"The preference is just where he fits in best with our team. The fact that he's versatile enough – up until today we played him in the midfield this entire preseason. Today was the first time that we put him in the back and that was out of necessity more than anything."
On having five goalkeepers in camp:
"We wanted to have four for sure. Especially with a group as large as we have we need to be able to play two games in a training session. We need to be able to play to four goals and obviously that takes four (goalkeepers). Diego Restrepo, there was an opportunity for us to bring him in and get a look and that was an opportunity we couldn't pass up. Chris Konopka got hurt last week so he's carrying a bit of an injury. We have four healthy guys and five total. We'll obviously have to trim that down."
On bringing more than 35 players into preseason training:
"It's pretty large. We could probably make four teams out of this right now. That gives our staff, all parts of our staff, from equipment, to trainers, to coaching, to our administrators, a big challenge. But we need to do that because we want to give guys a look and make sure the competition is truely at a very high level at this time of the year to try to win spots. There are a number of guys here and we will trim that down as we go. But it's hard to really evaluate guys unless you see them in this environment on a daily basis."
Morning drills consisted of more passing and possession exercises, beginning with short-sided 4v4 activities. Four additional players were placed on the outside of a square, used as "bumpers" for one touch layoffs and link-up play. Players were again separated into three main groups based on experience.
The team was also able to do some half-field scrimmaging, playing with width while sacrificing field length. That forced the team to stretch spacing near the touchlines, instead of forcing balls down the middle.
A few notes:
- Conor Casey, Sebastien Le Toux, and Jack McInerney have been playing together on offense. In several sessions, the three forwards have played ahead of a midfield that includes Mike Farfan and captain Brian Carroll.
- Rookie Don Anding showed well in crossing drills, using his strong left foot to hit low, driven balls towards the goalmouth.
- The guys who sat out the session were still active. They worked with head athletic trainer Paul Rushing and fitness coach Kevin Miller on simple exercises – namely stretching and elastic band resistance drills.
We'll have more tomorrow and hopefully KG will have fought off the flu. Got a question about the team or something you want insight on? Drop a comment below and we'll answer in an upcoming edition.
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org