Union at NovaCare
Kevin Kinkead

Daily Doop: Mother Nature not cooperating, plus Deadline Day transfers

It's been a tale of two sessions for the Union this week – indoor, outdoor, indoor, outdoor, etc.

Wet and windy conditions forced the team inside this morning, after the squad trained outside on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning. Manager John Hackworth gave the guys off on Wednesday afternoon after a good outdoor tactical session.

Since the team was on artificial turf inside the NovaCare bubble this morning, drills were again focused on passing and possession to begin the morning. Short-sided one-touch passing was the emphasis as the players tried to keep the ball within tight square spaces. The guys were again broken into four different groups.

The next drill was similar to Tuesday morning's half-field possession. This time, however, the goals were placed on the touchlines instead of the endlines.

That basically means that the squad was playing 7v7 on a field that was long, but very narrow. The result was some decent one-touch link-up play, with a lot of quick turns and shots on goal.

A few highlights from the limited morning scrimmage:

  • The goal of the day went to Ray Gaddis, who beat Zac MacMath with a sneaky shot to the near post. From my view, Gaddis looked as though he faked a cross, then hit a slow roller on the near side that found the back of the net.
  • Flank play was difficult on the narrow field, but there were some good combinations going forward. Stephen Okai blasted a shot off the underside of the crossbar after a great one-touch through ball from Roger Torres.
  • There are only two full-sized goals in the NovaCare bubble, so the players used smaller rounded goals on the second field of play. While on "Field 1", the players were able to take long distance shots against rotating goalkeepers. On "Field 2", they were forced to possess the ball more while moving towards those smaller targets.
  • A team comprised of Jimmy McLaughlin, Greg Jordan, Uriah Bentick, Charles Renken, and newcomer Jordi Vidal was especially competitive with the senior guys. If you watched any of the reserve games last year, you know that some of the younger players keep it simple and look to attack. They don't "overthink" the game.

One thing of note from the AM session is how precarious the NovaCare bubble appeared with Thursday's high, swirling wind gusts. While a Union front office type described it as "pretty crazy" and stood close to the exit doors, Hackworth shrugged it off.

"It feels like you are in a tent and things are blowing around outside," Hackworth surmised. "Honestly, I was so focused on the session that I didn't even notice once we got started."

In the afternoon, the players hit the weightroom for a lengthy session with strength and conditioning boss Kevin Miller followed by another session on the grassy, but soft pitch at Lincoln Financial Field. The evening session focused primarily on what Hackworth described as "functional training activities" based on position. Hackworth and Union academy coach Peter Fuller worked with the defenders, assistant coach Brendan Burke took the forwards and focused primarily on finishing drills, and assistant Jim Curtin had a session with the midfielders.

By the way, Fuller was the "other coach" on the field at YSC if you attended last Monday's open training session at YSC Sports in Wayne. Before joining the Union was the former head coach at the University of Mobile (Ala.).

Should also be noted that Union SuperDraft selection Stephen Okai was an NAIA Player of the Year at Mobile (Ala.) and briefly play under Fuller. Fuller left to become the reserve team boss for the New England Revloution in 2011.

The soccer world: SMALL.

In other news:

It's deadline day for the January transfer window, and a number of big moves went down. FC Dallas starlet Brek Shea completed his move to EPL side Stoke City.

David Beckham, rumored to be heading to PSG last year, signed with the Parisian giants today. Becks told the media that he will be donating his entire salary to a local children's charity. Major props for that.

Here's a list of some other MLS guys who have moved abroad this Winter:

Kei Kamara: Sporting Kansas City to Norwich City (loan deal to English Premier League)

Roger Espinoza: Sporting Kansas City to Wigan Athletic (English Premier League)

Andy Najar: DC United to Anderlecht (Belgian Jupiler League)

Julian De Guzman: FC Dallas to SSV Jahn Regensburg (German Second Division)

Alvaro Fernandez: Chicago Fire to Al Rayyan (loan deal to Qatari League)

Fredy Montero: Seattle to Millionarios (loan deal to Colombian League)

And of course we can't forget Union players Carlos Valdes and Zach Pfeffer, who were loaned to Independiente Santa Fe and Hoffenheim, respectively.

Union writer Kerith Gabriel contributed to this report

Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at k.kinkead@hotmail.com. Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com


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