It's Day Four here in beautiful Clearwater, Fla., and even a hectic overnight thunderstorm didn't halt the Union's practice plans.
OK, a morning lift was the plan, anyhow.
But if you've been following along this week, you've probably noticed strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller is usually the first name mentioned. The players might be getting sick of seeing Kevin, too. But he's the best in the business for a reason and today three separate groups had a 30-minute lifting session with the coach.
In the afternoon, the team had another rigorous two-hour session on a wet, but playable field. Much of the last hour was dedicated to rotating four-goal games, with keepers Andre Blake, John McCarthy, Brian Sylvestre and Zak Downes in net. Downes is another new trialist with the club. Don't worry Union fans, Vincent Nogueira was back on the field Thursday, joined by Brian Carroll and Michael Lahoud who have both been nursing injuries, as previously reported. Nogueira's off-day during Wednesday's scrimmage seemingly had people worried. But the move was precautionary and he was back on the field for the entire afternoon session.
The head coach Jim Curtin was busy today, too. Curtin held a 1 p.m. conference call with reporters to discuss the upcoming match against Jacksonville Armada FC. Yes, I know -- we all know -- there are other things on everyone's mind. Jim answered a few of them, as reported by Dave Zeitlin of MLSsoccer.com, including this about his look at the transfer market:
“We have clear targets, and we’re actively pursuing them. But at the same time, the guys that are here having the success they’re having is good. I want competition at every spot. I want guys to always be looking over their shoulder and know there’s someone pushing behind them.”
Elsewhere, there's plenty of news to report from us, too. The team reached an agreement with 6abc, Comcast SportsNet and The Comcast Network to broadcast all local games this year. Along with three other home games, the season opener against Colorado Rapids on March 7 will be broadcast on 6abc. CSN and TCN will split the remaining 21 locally televised games. The Union have nine on national TV.
Also, if you missed it yesterday, 10 members of the Union academy signed national letters of intent to play soccer at Division 1 colleges this upcoming season. You can see our report here.
In other news, Fred did not win the Powerball last night. He was back on the field today, but happy as ever. "Next time" he said.
More from yesterday: if you caught Wednesday's Daily DOOP, I had mentioned Andrew Wenger had scored a goal during an intra-squad scrimmage. He then tried his hand at broadcasting, leading me to wonder if there's anything more he could do. Well, add editor to this list. I mistakenly credited Wenger with a goal that was actually Cristian Maidana, as Andrew pointed out to me. Thanks for reading, Andrew. Sorry, Chaco. Sorry, fans.
Elsewhere, our video team pushed out two awesome videos that you may not have seen. We go behind the scenes with Dzenan Catic on our "On the Road" series. And, Jim Curtin, Ethan White and Zach Pfeffer react to the second week of training.
Catic, the rookie, was great, but hopefully you saw C.J. Sapong getting into a freestyle post-practice. Sapong does all of the rounds for us, as you may have noticed, and tomorrow we're thrilled to have him do another. C.J. is taking over Twitter from 1:30-2:30 as the Union head for Jacksonville for their first preseason game of 2015.
We're back at it tomorrow with a morning session before a quick lunch. The team heads for Jacksonville early in the afternoon ahead of Saturday's match and will have the night off upon arrival. And if you haven't started your countdown yet, please do. You know we have.
Contact Union press officer Chris Winkler at firstname.lastname@example.org.