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

Monday, January 25, 2016

In the Bubble: Highlights from Day 1 of Union training camp

There wasn't a whole lot going on at the first day
of Union training camp at the Bubble at Penn Monday.
As first days go for the Philadelphia Union, Monday’s practice at Dunning-Cohen Field on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania was stunningly uneventful. To the media throng (ahem) in attendance, there was little of the drama of past years. No established star was told they didn’t have a place on the team, no one walked out, and there wasn’t much in the way of mystery trialists.

Instead, the Union’s lively session consisted mostly of new, unfamiliar faces. With many veteran mainstays cleaned out by the offseason roster cull, there were frankly a bunch of guys no one recognized and whose identities may not be very important unless you’re a devoted follower of USL. Here are a few observations:

- Two important takeaways: Much of the field was populated by current or prospective Bethlehem Steel players. That includes all six signed players signed – Boluwatife Akinyode, Michael Daly (pretty sure on this one, but not 100 percent), Gabe Gissie, Ryan Richter, Derrick Jones and goalkeeper Samir Badr. Many of the other players in attendance are likely vying for USL deals more so than realistically threatening for MLS positions. (Former Harrisburg and Rochester defender Ken Tribbett is an example.) There were also several Academy players training – Andrew Verdi in goal, I believe Auston Trusty was there before he departs for the U.S. U-19 camp later this week. Remember, when the Union are in Florida, there are dozens of players doing the camp-to-camp hop, so trialists are more abundant.

- The second interesting observation: Everyone, save for Maurice Edu, who is recovering from sports hernia surgery, was a full go. The Union rotated three teams of nine players in the 40 minutes we watched. Two played full-field games, while the other ran. Veterans like Vincent Nogueira, Tranquillo Barnetta, Sebastien Le Toux and Chris Pontius all hit the ground running. The days of Conor Casey sitting on a training table or working the bike for an hour are gone, literally and symbolically. Here’s Jim Curtin on the matter:

“We wanted to set the tone that there’s no pro days or off days for the older guys. We didn’t ease them into it. They were up to the task and were pushed hard. We’re going to be a team that is going to be at the top fitness-wise. We want to be a team that outruns the competition.”

- Defender Anderson Conceicao was absent from training. He’ll arrive Tuesday or Wednesday. Chalk it up to the weather.

- Curtin said the club is likely to bring Badr to Florida, as he’s big on training with four goalies. As far as the goalie situation, Curtin said, “There’s still a plan to bring in another goalkeeper. We’ll see how it plays out. At this time, Andre (Blake) will be our No. 1.” Stay tuned?

- One of the most impressive players Monday was Fabian Herbers. The rookie scored a pair of goals and looked good in finishing drills against the backdrop of largely dreary finishing. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves on this – you’ll remember the splashy finishing of Dzenan Catic last preseason, and he’s no longer with the Union. But Curtin did list Herbers behind CJ Sapong in his usual “we’re in the market for a striker” communique.

- Another 9-v-9 goalscorer was rookie Mitch Lurie on a header off a corner. He also launched a few accurate long passes from the back. That is prized by Earnie Stewart’s build-from-the-back tenets.

- Other than that, not much happened. Warren Creavalle scored a nice goal on a turn and shoot in finishing drills. Akinyode looked pretty good in the run of play on the wing. Ray Lee is the lone draft pick from 2015 still standing. Didn't see much from Josh Yaro and Keegan Rosenberry, but it's early yet and there were a lot of bodies out there. And Fred’s absence is more startling than I ever would’ve imagined.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why was Fred's absence startling? Mean that in a good way or a bad way?

January 25, 2016 at 3:36 PM 
Anonymous Pete said...

Could you maybe do some posts about DFS? There is loads of information on it on the web, you have great websites like, where you can get info from. I think that would be really cool

January 31, 2016 at 3:23 PM 
Blogger John Gibson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 7, 2016 at 1:19 AM 

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