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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Monday's training camp reflections

As promised in my daily coverage, let’s start with highlights of that Carlos Valdes goal, plus a write up of the game so the Spanish speaking readers can correct my interpretation.

Here’s Valdes’ tweet from Sunday night as well.

Onto some impressions from practice today:

- Kind of hard to find fault with manager John Hackworth's delineation of players into squads for 11-on-11 mini-games. The first team reads:




Le Toux-Casey-McInerney

With the exception of perhaps Jeff Parke for one of the central defenders, I see this as a likely opening -day starting XI.

- On the subject of central defenders, I was impressed by how fresh Chris Albright looked. While he was outmuscled on one of the goals by Leo Fernandes in a bad defensive error, he doesn't look like a 34-year-old carrying the kind of injury history he's had to endure of late. Whether he'll become a full-time starter, I'm not sure. But his veteran leadership should keep him in the side regularly.

- You'll notice in the above formation that Sebastien Le Toux is playing the dreaded wing forward position that sapped him of so much creativity and verve last year in Vancouver and New York. This role is fundamentally different though: Instead of a wide man in a 4-4-2, he'll be able to fill the hole left centrally between midfield and the forwards, tracking back to exchange passes with Michael Farfan and Amobi Okugo.

- On the forward front, it took a while for the first team to get on the board. When they did, it was through a superb 15-yard drive by Conor Casey. - If you're looking for vocal guys on this team, there are plenty packing that second team. Ray Gaddis is a big communicator, as is Danny Cruz. The latter showed a lot of energy and did a lot of running Monday. He may lack the attacking skill of a Michael Farfan, but his work rate is an attribute.

- Also on that second team was Keon Daniel, operating in a central midfield role. Finding a spot for him was a bugaboo last year, and Hackworth earlier posited that he'd play more as a winger in the midfield than centrally, a position stocked with the likes of Carroll, Okugo and Michael Lahoud. - Greg Jordan isn't a central defender by trade; he looks a little young to even be on a pro team. But he showed great composure on a couple of occasions with Casey pressuring him hard for possession.

- Among those not practicing Monday were newly acquired Mexican midfielder Alex Mendoza and defender Damani Richards. Both were doing fitness work on the side at the NovaCare Complex.

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