It’s been a busy first 24 hours for the Union back under the Florida sun. The team practiced from 5-6:30 p.m. Monday night upon arrival in the sunshine state, then had their longest session of the preseason Tuesday morning. With a 2:30 game looming Wednesday in the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic, the team had the rest of the day off.
Tuesday, though, Jim Curtin and his staff turned the intensity up. After fitness and passing, the team broke into three groups for extensive 1on1 and 2on2 drills featuring keepers. There were goals around but it was Rais Mbolhi making plenty of good saves. Here’s a small sample as he stops Zach Pfeffer twice:
Much of the last hour was given to multiple three-quarters field intra-squad scrimmages. Mbolhi’s solid play continued as he kept a clean sheet for the entire duration. C.J. Sapong got on the score sheet for the orange team.
Orange (4-2-3-1): Mbolhi; Gaddis, Vitoria, White, Williams; Edu, Nogueira; Wenger, Maidana, Le Toux, Sapong.
Grey (4-2-3-1): McCarthy; Fabinho, Marquez, Will Campbell, Lee; Lahoud, Carroll; Pfeffer, Fred, Ayuk, Casey.
Also subbing for the gray squad was Dzenan Catic, Jimmy McLaughlin and Antoine Hoppenot. Danny Cruz was back on the practice field Tuesday, but sat out the scrimmages. Academy member Sebastian Elney (along with Will Campbell) have joined the team for this session. However, Elney sat out the scrimmages.
As mentioned earlier, the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic kicks off tomorrow. Cruz and assistant coach B.J. Callaghan were on hand for the tournament’s kick-off event last night in Lakewood Ranch. Both met with local media and signed some autographs for young fans.
That event starts tomorrow at 12 p.m. with Columbus Crew taking on London United. The Union open at 2:30 against Costa Rica U-23s, the other half of the group. London United will be replacing TP Mazembe, who could not make the trip, and will be the Union’s second game of the tournament on Saturday night.
All games at the tournament will be streamed live at IMG’s website, and will also be available later if you can’t catch them live.
Of course, there was plenty of good news Monday. The U16s scored a dramatic late goal to defeat New York Red Bulls 1-0 and advance to the Generation Adidas Cup Final Group Stage. The late goal vaulted the team past the Red Bulls in the group, claiming the second and final spot in GA Cup from the East region. This reaction is just priceless:
They’ll pick back up over Easter weekend in Dallas, Texas for the championship.
Contact Philadelphia Union press officer Chris Winkler at email@example.com.