Not that this team doesn't love Philly, but Monday's jaunt to Tampa was just what the doctor ordered. The Union left a cold, sleet-soaked PPL Park in the early hours of Monday morning and landed in 70-and-sunny Tampa, Fla. by early afternoon.
But don't mistake this for a vacation. By the time the team unloaded their bags and ate lunch, it was time to hit the pitch for their first training session during the second phase of preseason. After all, the Union's first preseason game -- against Armada FC -- is in just five days.
It started with an extended workout with strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller. As head coach Jim Curtin alluded to, it was important to knock the jetlag out of everyone's legs. The team then broke into some small-sided games before basically going full-pitch in 10v10s. As Curtin has done for most of camp, players were split into three rotating teams with the outsiders working further with Miller. The defense is still controlling the run of play, but Curtin was encouraged with what he saw today, calling it a "good first day" as he addressed the team after practice. C.J. Sapong and Danny Cruz narrowly missed goals in the eight-minute sessions.
In particular, Richie Marquez looked pretty good anchoring a back-four for two separate squads. With 26 available players, Marquez doubled up and played all three scrimmages.
Rais Mbolhi is not in camp yet, but will be returning Sunday after his Algerian side was eliminated from the 2015 African Cup of Nations yesterday. The Fennecs lost 3-1 to Ivory Coast in the quarterfinals.
Academy-wise, Derrick Jones and Yosef Samuel are in camp and are training with the team in Clearwater. Sebastien Elney and Sean Wilson will join the group after their national team commitment comes to an end. Speaking of, both Elney and Wilson started today for them USMNT U18s, which drew 1-1 with Club Tijuana.
For the injuries, Brian Carroll and Michael Lahoud continue to sit out scrimmages, but are participating in all other team activities. Carroll is still rounding back into shape after a common winter cold forced him to miss most of the time at YSC. You can be sure the warmer climate is a welcome sight. Lahoud, meanwhile, is dealing with a minor right hand injury that shouldn't keep him out for much longer.
Finally, it was Carroll who claimed the best Super Bowl prediction; he had the Patriots winning 27-23. Elsewhere, Austin Berry joked about how good he felt about his 3-0 final after a scoreless first quarter, but the real winner Sunday was Boston-native Sheanon Williams.
Best Super Bowl ever— Sheanon Williams (@sheanonwilliams) February 2, 2015
The team is back training tomorrow at 10 a.m. It looks like the first 11v11 scrimmage will be held on Wednesday. Got a question for us? Leave it in the comment section.
Contact Union press officer Chris Winkler at firstname.lastname@example.org