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

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Under the Bubble: Notes from Day 1 of Union training

Day 1 under the Bubble at Penn for the Union.
The Union congregated under the bubble at Penn Tuesday, beneath intermittent sunshine and deluging rain, for their first official day of training camp. A few takeaways from a pretty slow opening day.

- Everyone was present and accounted for save for Fafa Picault (family reasons) and CJ Sapong (U.S. national team). Haris Medunjanin is training with the Union for most of January before heading to join Bosnia and Herzegovina.

- Among the Bethlehem Steel faces present were James Chambers as the obligatory veteran midfield presence, Santi Moar, Cameroonian defender Olivier Mbaizo and Brandon Allen. Expect more Steel participation toward the end of the week as they get going. Those four players certainly shined, with Allen scoring a couple of goals and looking decent as the presumptive fourth forward on the organizational depth chart.

- To the chagrin of "name that trialist" enthusiasts like myself, nothing to report on that front. Perhaps as the week proceeds and more academy kids and Steel trialists join, there will be more names. But with the influx of Homegrowns, the Union lack open spots and the general organizational chaos of years past that made trialists dropping in a viable option of player recruitment.

- There are plenty of opportunities for strikers to get some play in the absence of Sapong in the early weeks of training camp, and players seemed to be taking advantage. Jay Simpson looked sharp, scoring a couple of times in 9-v-9 drills. Corey Burke netted a couple of goals and looked physical in the middle. And Allen impressed, his physicality at 6-1, 190 pounds certainly up to the level of MLS.

- There’s not a ton that can be gleaned form 9-v-9 drills since they weren’t full field will full tactics. Saw a lot of new signing David Accam and Fabian Herbers generally in the neutral jersey to work for both teams. Herbers looked pretty sharp, not the extent that he has in the past (he’s a great practice player) but pretty good.

- It’s no secret that distribution on Auston Trusty’s left foot is a big piece of the skillset the Union staff is trying to grow with him. He hit a handful of long balls from his left center back-type spot to the opposite wing that were inch-perfect. That ability to hold down the left side bodes well for the Homegrown’s prospects of playing (more on that later this week).

- In Union grooming news:

Also Richie Marquez, now the defensive elder statesman, tells the Daily Times exclusively that his trimmed beard is merely the starting point for the year’s growth. While he was out in the humid climes of California in the winter, he had to trim it back a little. Heard it here first.

- John McCarthy looked sharp facing shots. Jake McGuire did as well, except for saving one shot from Anthony Fontana with his face. Fontana looked ready and able to shoot early, which is a plus from him. And I liked what I saw from Warren Creavalle, who is not to be overlooked in the midfield reckoning this year, sharp on the ball and intercepting passes in the middle of the field.

- Not present were any of the three SuperDrafted rookies – Mike Catalano, Aidan Apodaca and Matt Danilack – selected in the third and fourth rounds Sunday. They’ll likely work into the group with Steel first and potentially with the Union toward the end of the week or early next week.

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