Jim Curtin and his staff doubled-up on Day Two in Clearwater, giving his team arguably the most rigorous session of the preseason in the morning before finishing with a light hour-long practice in the late afternoon.
The morning started with another long workout from strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller. Miller’s role is as vital as ever during the early part of the preseason and it’s showing with the time dedicated to fitness. Along with YSC’s director of sports science, Garrison Draper, the Union are monitoring each players’ movement during practice by placing a chip within a practice jersey. We’ll sit down with Kevin and Garrison to break this down in the future.
On the field, though, Miller was on his ‘A’ game today, psyching out a few players while barking out directional instructions while pointing in another direction. He’ll have to apologize to some our non-English speakers.
Half-field 8v8s ended the morning session and the offensive flow is certainly starting to come together. On one of the gray teams, Andrew Wenger and C.J. Sapong, in particular, looked to be gelling. Sapong, who was acquired in December, likes what he sees so far but admits it’s a work in progress.
“I think the offense has been really good – the ideas are there,” Sapong said. “People are still trying to get their legs underneath them and it’s going to take us a while to get used to each other. That will come with time, though. Right now, everybody is still trying to find their flow and to make sure that we’re peaking come March 7.”
The night session wrapped up with a few passing drills and was light in nature. Again, more cardio work with Miller in between drills. Of note, Fred was on the money for most of the drill and even curled in a nice goal from the edge of the 18.
That's it for it Day Two. Another strong, healthy day -- nothing new on the injury report. And if you haven't seen them, Ray Gaddis is looking good in his new boots.
Elsewhere, Conor Casey talked to Union beat writer Jeff McMenamin and said the playoffs are the only thing on his mind. He also added:
"We haven’t made them since I’ve been here. As a forward you always think about the points that you missed and not the ones you put in so I want to score as many goals as I possibly can. Thinking about the past two seasons, a goal here or there would’ve clinched a playoff spot for us and I’m hoping to erase those memories this year. With this group of guys, we expect to be there.”
Over at MLSsoccer.com, Eric Bird talked to Union beat writer Dave Zeitlin. His main goal, right now, is to make the team. He also talked about his preference of playing centrally in the midfield and being that key playmaker to link the defense to the offense:
“It’s a role I think I really thrive in. I like to be the guy that people look to and lean on. Being a part of [the national championship] and playing the role I did was a really cool experience.”
And Cristian Maidana took some time to talk to the Union video team and shared his thoughts on the upcoming season.
Contact Union press officer Chris Winkler at firstname.lastname@example.org.