Before Philadelphia Union departed for the sunnier skies of Florida, the club went through a week of training at the YSC Sports Complex in Wayne, Pa.
While the snow was abundant outside, you wouldn’t know by what was happening inside. Sweat was falling from players’ faces as they worked through Manager Peter Nowak’s notoriously rigorous training sessions.
No player worked harder than 39-year-old goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon.
“Faryd is a great teammate,” said second-year forward Jack McInerney. “He came in and just went to work almost like he was a rookie. At the same time, he’ll lighten the mood with a joke, which has been fun to be around. We all respect Faryd for what he has accomplished in the past, but you would never know he has played all these years. He is a very hard worker and it’s great for the players, especially the young ones, to see that kind of work ethic.”
Mondragon most recently played for FC Cologne of the Bundesliga from 2007-’10. He has been capped 50 times for the Colombian National Team since his ‘93 debut.
Mondragon competed with the Colombian National Team in the ‘92 Summer Olympics and the ‘98 FIFA World Cup. Mondragon was last in net for the national squad when Colombia met the U.S. Men’s National Team at PPL Park on October 12, 2010.
All Mondragon is focused on now is his situation with the Union.
“He is such a great guy and everyone is looking up to him,” Nowak said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “Even with his experience, you wouldn’t know it because he puts everything on the line and he’s not looking for any free passes in training.
"He’s just a joy to work with every single day. He enjoys coming to practice and he puts extra work in after practice. As a coach, it’s a dream to work with such guys."
For the players directly in front of Mondragon, let’s just say he has made an immediate impression.
“He is very confident in his ability, and it shows with how he practices and how he carries himself,” said defender Sheanon Williams. “Faryd has so much international experience, and he’s a player you want to tap into for information. I can see why he has had so much success.
"He came in here and fit right in with everyone. I’m very excited to be playing with him this season.”
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