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

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Double bubble: Training notes from Day 3

Ilsinho at Union trianing: Always a good time.
The Union wrapped up the last of three days at the Bubble over Dunning-Cohen Champions Field on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania (I will not missing typing out that lengthy title) Thursday.

The club will have at least three more days on the field at the Power Training Complex, the Saturday session of which will be open to the public, before jetting off to the first phase of their Floridian training camp next Tuesday.

Thursday’s session involved a lot of attacking drills, particularly from the wings, and finished with some full-field 11-v-11 scrimmaging. Here are some belated highlights.

- First up: Attendance report. Haris Medunjanin has headed off to Bosnia and Herzegovina camp in southern California. CJ Sapong is still away with the U.S., as those two prepare to possibly meet in a friendly next week. Fafa Picault (personal reasons) has yet to report to camp, and Andre Blake was excused from training for the same. That left 28 bodies, with Tomas Romero as the third goalie plus the voluminous Steel roster of James Chambers, Olivier Mbaizo, Brandon Allen and Santi Moar.
- The first group of 11-v-11 lined up thusly:

Team 1:

Team 2:

From that group, the center back pairings are interesting (Mark McKenzie rotated in for Marquez for the second round of games), restoring a certain right-left symmetry that Jim Curtin harped on in 2016 but relented on in 2017. It also raises eyebrows that Anthony Fontana is being deployed in a more withdrawn role, but I’d write that off as fewer central players sans Medunjanin. David Accam on the left with Fabinho is an attacking axis, though Matt Real seems to naturally gravitate higher up the pitch, which is promising.

- Another product of drills appears to be an insistence on Adam Najem’s movement. He seems to have been floating out wide more during drills, particularly to the right, in an effort to create space and escape a central holding midfielder (in this case, Warren Creavalle and his penchant for hoovering up loose passes). I confess that I don’t watch Najem at Steel much, but it seems that development of that dimension of his game is worth monitoring.

- Jay Simpson scored in full-field drills (I talked to him after; more on that this weekend). Corey Burke scored a couple of times in the attacking drills, and he’s physically imposing. His finishing in front of goal was sharp, and he had a couple instances where he bodied up Jack Elliott or other defenders and held his own physically via a strong, 6-1 frame.

- Special recognition to Ilsinho, who at one point as a drill was being blown dead just innocently tipped a hard cross into the box in a perfect looping trajectory that nestled into the corner of the goal sublimely. That kind of skill is what so beguiles with a player of Ilsinho's caliber. John McCarthy, in goal at the moment, was less a fan, shall we say.

- Another goal in 11-v-11 drills came off the head of Josh Yaro, into his own goal off a cross stung in by I believe Fabian Herbers. Yaro was put in two similar situations in other passages during that drill and did better with them, shepherding them out for corner kicks.

- In continuing my personal grooming beat, Richie Marquez got a haircut, his locks notably shorn down. Perhaps all my questions about being a veteran got to him.

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Anonymous SilverRey said...

Thanks for the updates Matt!!

Interesting to see Ayuk on the left. I think I remember him playing on the left for the first team earlier on, but it seemed like they played him more on the right.

January 29, 2018 at 7:21 PM 
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