DELTONA, Fla. – On the heels of a 1-1 draw against Orlando City SC, Saturday night, the Union opened Sunday’s practice full of renewed vigor.
Well, the substitutes anyway; the 11 guys who started the match did a 35 minute regeneration session that involved a trail run, stretching and exercise band work followed by a midmorning pool session.
After that workout, the starters worked the crowd that assembled at Dewey O. Boster Sports Complex for the AM kids’ clinic session, signing autographs and taking snapshots with close to 150 kids and their parents.
For the guys who entered during the second half of the match, their session Sunday morning involved a detailed series of passing and possession drills, focusing on close quarters passing followed by long balls away to relieve pressure. During the possession portion, the group worked on these series of movements in some cases only using two and three touch passing at maximum.
“When we come out to work, it’s exactly what we do – work,” manager John Hackworth said following practice. “And so far [in all of our sessions] the intensity is good, the competition has been excellent and that bodes well for our team as a whole. Guys are pushing each other but the quality of what we are doing is very important and that’s what we are trying to get across.”
Aaron Wheeler (illness) and Cristhian Hernandez (ankle sprain) have not made the trip down to Florida yet as both continue to recieve treatment in Philadelphia. Trainer Paul Rushing noted that both are expected to join the club next weekend for the third week of Florida training.
One guy who was ready to go for this morning’s training session was midfielder Leo Fernandes, whose confidence was running high after his 74th minute equalizer. Fernandes was sharp in practice and it was especially conveyed during a series of 3v3 drills while he played defense, dispossessing an attacker, breaking free on the counter and using a nifty move to elude the keeper for a goal.
Not to say it isn’t something we haven’t seen before from the Stony Brook product, but evident was his confidence as he fights for one of the coveted few spots on the roster.
“I think any rookie that comes in and makes plays in games; that’s all you can really ask for,” said Hackworth. “[Leo’s] been good in training and he has a lot of qualities that we look for in our players. To actually execute those qualities in a game is very important. I am happy for him, but more importantly, happy that second group played well and pulled one back to get a result [the Orlando City match]."
Watch: Catching up with Leo FernandesWant to hear from someone in particular?
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That’s all, enjoy the rest of your Sunday and the Grammys, we’ll catch you tomorrow.
Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org