All week, soccer pundits have described Columbus as a sleeper team.
The Union doesn’t think so and certainly don’t plan to sleep on the Crew when they travel to Ohio on Friday for a Saturday night clash (5 p.m., Live Well Network) against the Eastern Conference foe.
“They are a talented and organized group that are good on both sides of the ball and they are very dangerous on restarts," said Union technical director Rob Vartughian, who philadelphiaunion.com caught up with after Tuesday’s training session. With [Frederico] Higuain, [Jairo] Arrieta, [Eddie] Gaven (Gaven currently leads the league in goals with three), [Dominic] Oduro; they have a number of guys that can make plays and they are tough to break down defensively. They have seven points through four games with two away wins already… they’re a good team.”
The team returned to the training grounds today with high energy and intensity as prep work for the weekend clash started out with a 20-25 minute film session this morning within PPL Park. The group then headed to training and battled hard during a series of possession and finishing activities and ended with a 7v7 small-sided game.
This morning was legit competition.
Not just to push each other, but for a spot on the field come Saturday.
“I think the mentality of the group is good right now,” said Vartughian. “We spent the first part of training going through film and watching clips from our game vs. New York as a group. We looked at things we did well and things we need to get better at before we headed out to the field. Training was very competitive today, and at the same time, I think you could tell guys were enjoying themselves, which is also important.”
Today was also the first day that new Brazilian import Kleberson participated in a full training session with his new teammates. Playing in the midfield, Kleberson got his first taste of Philly weather too as a windy morning met the team at Chester Park. In all, Kleberson took the session in stride, but it’s far too early to tell his prowess after one day.
“His acclimation is not going to be an overnight thing,” Vartughian added. “There are a lot of things that come with playing in a new league and alongside and against new players...those things all take time. We thought he had a good first day with us.”
Don’t forget that tonight from 5:00-7:00 p.m. there will be a meet and greet for the Union’s latest signing at na’Brasa Brazilian Steakhouse (680 N. Easton Rd.) in Horsham.
Former U.S. women's National Team defender and newly minted Union sideline reporter Heather Mitts was the featured guest on “The 90th Minute” radio show airing live from Chickies and Pete’s in Northeast Philadelphia last night. Mitts signed autographs and took pictures with the great crowd that came out. In addtion she discussed her life as player, working for the Union now and why she desperately wants Landon Donovan back on the U.S. men's National Team. To listen to last night's broadcast, click here.
And do you know what really grinds our gears?
MLS’ latest Power Rankings came out Tuesday and has the Union at No. 15 overall, down one spot from last week. A No. 14 ranking the club held for three weeks straight.
What are your thoughts on the latest rankings? Agree? Disagree?
Leave us a comment below.
Catch you later...
Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org