For the first time since before my wedding, I finally made it out to practice this morning. They've moved practice up to even earlier due to the ridiculously hot June we've had so things got started around 9 today.
It wasn't really too much of a training today as they play Columbus tomorrow. They did a small-sided game for about 15 minutes and then the obligatory defending free kick practice that a team must do any time a game against Columbus is up next, but there were a few interesting notes.
Trialists It's that time of year again and there were a few unrecognized faces out at practice this morning. There's one guy that they call "Papa" who spent most of his time on the side doing drills with the other farther down reserves. He's an absolutely towering figure at well over six feet tall, but we didn't really see much of him or even what position he plays. He's apparently very young and from Senegal.
The two Trinidadian players that were rumored to be coming on trial were there today and interestingly, Shahdon Winchester(I think) was the only one of all the trialists to actually get time playing in the small-sided game. Still, didn't get much of a look at them, hopefully I'll be able to make it out to practice next Wednesday to get a better look at these guys.
One other guy who was out at practice today was Bradlee Baladez. This is a former FCD Academy player who will be going into his Sophmore year at South Carolina after being named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team. He's an off-striker and I've been a big fan of his for awhile. Definitely one to track for the future as a possible homegrown once he's near the end of college. I've been hoping to see him out at practice for awhile.
Injuries Zach Loyd looked ok out there. He didn't train with the team, just did some rehab on the side, but it looked like everything was OK. You'll see that Schellas says he's fine in the quotes section, but do you really think with all the games coming up that Dallas would risk him this weekend?
Avila Missing This makes sense now, but Avila was obviously not out at training today. He is moving to Atlas of Guadalajara on loan for six months. These deals almost always have purchase options as well.
Lighter practice The Academy guys like Ulloa, Top and Hernandez weren't out there today as they were on the outer fields training with the Academy in preparation for Finals week in Milwaukee. They're certainly taking this thing very seriously.
Columbus this weekend, in the past set pieces were always a huge point of emphasis
It is a big thing with Columbus when you have players like Andy Iro and Chad Marshall, two of the better physical players in the air and then you've got good quality services coming in. It is a concern, but at the same time I think our team has seen a lot of this this season and matched up fairly well with that.
Whats the update on Zach Loyd?
I think he'll be fine, we kept him out of training just to evaulate but I know he wants to be out there and we'll just see how he does.
Seven starters in the Open Cup game this past week, are you looking at Open Cup games exactly like MLS is that a different challenge?
The open cup games are very important to us because the name of the open cup is under our owner and visionary Lamar Hunt so we want to do well with that. Second point, it gives us some games for the other players, not the seven starters but the other players some important games like a Villar who scored a great goal and got a chance to get some field time.
Then a third point if we're fortunate enough to win it, it gives us a route into CONCACAF[Champions League] for next year so there's great value in this whole event. I think the one team who didn't win was Columbus but they may be focusing on the MLS games a little bit more. For us, if we're going to put those players out there we want to show we can win it.
For Columbus, Andres Mendoza has been coming on very strong recently can you comment on him?
Very good player, one of the premier strikers coming out of Peru and like all international players there's always an adjustment to the travel, to the style of play, the officiating in the league, there's always an adjustment for any international player. I think he's made that adjustment, normally it can take up to a year to do that.
Can you comment on any of the trialists out here?
No, because we've got a few new players out here that we're looking at and today is not the training session to really look at a player but we wanted to get a chance to get them out here.
Eric Alexander was pushed farther up the field in the last game can you talk about the thinking behind that?
We're trying to put our best XI on the field on both sides of the ball and since we are bringing Jackson on the right side of midfield, it looks like it could be a good spot for him, that's where we had him last year.
Speaking of Jackson, what's gotten into him recently?
I think he's settled down in life, getting married and getting all those thing settled in life because he was the primary person involved in all the wedding arrangements, the church, reception and travel so I think those things have been a constant distraction for him. With his new wife here, I think he can focus on this life.