DELTONA, Fla. – Blue skies, great weather and a day of rest was on the menu for Tuesday as the Union took a break from the rigors of preseason training and got a chance to enjoy North Orlando. Many of the players kept to their room, some like Gabriel Farfan and Antoine Hoppenot hit the gym while some like trialist Shaun Francis walked the area around the hotel to check out the sights.
The decision was made earlier this week to give players a much needed rest day as the Union now head into a grueling match slate that will find them playing three games in four days beginning tomorrow.
That schedule also opens against MLS competition, the first time since the team’s inception it will scrimmage a league club in preseason. Columbus is the first test Wednesday at 1 p.m. in the second match of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic (1 p.m., philadelphiaunion.com/live and MLSSoccer.com/live). Friday a split squad travels to Jacksonville to play Montreal (7:30 p.m.) and Saturday is the third and final group match of the DPSC against Toronto FC, scheduled for a 3 p.m. kick (philadelphiaunion.com/live and MLSSoccer.com/live).
Not too much to report today given the break, but we did catch up with assistant coach Jim Curtin, who ran a portion of yesterday’s session demonstrating by example, when he donned a training top and got involved in Monday’s intersquad scrimmage. Curtin explained the hands-on approach is what works best for him to understand the tendencies of different players.
“A lot of times I am able to still jump in and play and you learn a lot about guys when you play with them,” Curtin said. “You can give them little tips inside and out and you learn what their strengths are as players so it’s very good from an evaluation standpoint to jump in and play.”
Curtin definitely has some experience from his own playing days. A Philly native (Oreland, Pa. to be exact) Curtin was a standout defender at Villanova, and a former MLS All-Star during a 10-year career in the league. He’s taken all that knowledge and parlayed it into a successful coaching career, one that reached the professional ranks when he was hired as the fourth member of the club’s technical staff in November.
“I do have some experience from my playing days though that was a long, long time ago,” quipped Curtin. “But it’s always good to get out there and share some things with these guys.”
You can see the entire interview with Curtin in the video above; included in a series of “Daily Doop” video editions that will feature on the site during this week of preseason.
Michael Farfan has been absent the past few days taking part in MLS’ “March to Soccer” festivities. This week the league embarked on a media and marketing tour looking to expand its brand and the exposure of its 19 clubs. Farfan was chosen to represent the Union and spent Tuesday touring MLS’ offices in New York City, taking part in a media roundtable discussion and doing interviews with ESPN, NBC Sports and Sports Illustrated. Farfan joined fellow MLSers like Thierry Henry, Jay DeMerit, Robbie Keane and more in the two day tour. In the DD photo on our homepage today, Farfan is in a candid that includes Columbus' Frederico Higuain, FC Dallas' Zach Loyd, Colorado's Drew Moor, D.C. United's Chris Pontius, Chicago's Sean Johnson and Montreal's Patrice Bernier.
However, with all of that scheduled to wrap today, Farfan is expected to rejoin the team tomorrow.
Wanted to note that our May 25 match against Montreal has been changed from a 2 p.m. start time to a 7 p.m. kick, one which will be televised on The Comcast Network; it is the only change in our schedule as of now, we’ll keep you posted on any additional ones.
In the news….
The writers of American Soccer Now caught up with Union midfielder Zach Pfeffer and fellow American Russell Canouse in this piece conveying the uniqueness of their situation to the simplicities of the average U.S. teen. Our favorite line in the post:
“For Russell Canouse and Zach Pfeffer, two of the brightest young American soccer talents, things are different. Both live in Germany and play for the TSG 1899 Hoffenheim Akademie, as members of the U19 squad. They’re not worried about getting their high school team to States or whom to take to prom. They’re worried about their match next month against Bayern Munich.”
As a reminder, read this and more soccer coverage on www.philly.com/sports our newest partner in conveying more of the beautiful game to the masses; enjoy your Tuesday, we’ll catch you tomorrow.
Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org