Practice Notes & Quotes 08-28-02

G – Rimando, McGinty
D – Nelsen, Reyes, Prideuax
M – Etcheverry, Olsen, Convey, Alegria, Villegas, Williams, Alavanja
F – Lassiter, Curtis, Quintinilla, Moreno . . . . .. . . . . . . . Zambrano

McKinley ran laps at a high, sustained pace.

For those who thought that Zambrano is a slug on the field, they might want to start back stepping. He’s definitely in shape, although he might not be ready for a full 90 minutes. His quickness is above average and his speed slightly below average. Like the other South Americans on the team, the ball seems to stick to his feet when he is dribbling. An example of this was during the game of “21 touch Keep Away.” At least on a couple of occasions he managed to dribble through 2 v. 1 situations and then deliver the ball to an open teammate. His vision is better than the average MLS player often finding the correct player, but not to the extent of McKinley/Agoos with the long-range crosses. He did manage to put in a couple of goals in the team’s short field scrimmage, including a neat shot through a screening Q2, which beat Rimando to the near post due to the power. The obvious negative on Zambrano is that he has no air game – he didn’t jump once during practice. He did make a couple of decent runs, but once he found a spot he didn’t move very much until the situation changed. Reflective of his quickness, on defense he found ways to hide in passing lanes, and then dive out to intercept passes between defenders, thus creating dangerous turnover situations. All in all he is a player that could make an impact, but time will tell.

As yesterday was a down day, today was upbeat – possibly because of the rain as Olsen said (see quotes). Olsen’s antics were at the front and the players around him positively responded. Almost from the outset he flew over the field challenging and demanding the ball during the “Keep Away” game. One new tactic Olsen found to disrupt the opponents is to sling mud at them as they are prepared to receive the ball (not really new, just something veterans hold back on until the time is right to use it (and no one is looking)). At least in this case the tactic worked against Nelsen and Olsen’s team got the turnover. Yet, moments later Nelsen managed to get his revenge with a beautiful mud assisted 10-yard sliding tackle against Olsen with mud and water splashing in a picturesque display. Although nowhere near touching Olsen, who nimbly jumped over Nelsen, Olsen did manage to “dive” into the nearest mud patch and pull a quad roll beseeching for all to hear about the inequities of the play and the unfairness of the system. The conclusion, Nelsen and Olsen are “mudders.”

The team worked on crossing into the box during the inter squad scrimmage – crosses coming in from Olsen, Convey, and Villegas. Although the drill is fairly regular, today’s finishing was simply much better. Not only were the shots going on goal, and into the net, but also the shots for the most part were taken much more quickly and from farther out. In the end the finishing was better, but not totally up to the quality of the past.

Ben Olsen
You like the mud?
“Yeah, I love the mud. It’s actually nice to get some rain it gives you some energy. It’s been so hot lately. It’s tough on your emotions. You’re tired so much that you can’t have some fun.”

RH has you playing at forward. Is this something that you expect to become a regular thing?
“I don’t think so. I think it’s a . . . it’s kind of a false position for me. We’re down some guys up top with Jaime and Santino. But it’s fine. I’ve got to learn the position – I haven’t played it since college. It takes time to learn and for them to learn me. It’s a tough position. Scoring goals is a tough thing.”

The team is having a tough time scoring. You’ve been around long enough to know the game and what problems are there. What do you see as the problem?
“Well, it’s a combination of things. You have to be lucky to score goals. I think that’s a factor maybe. The service to the last ball maybe isn’t good enough. Maybe the runs aren’t good enough. Once we get those two on the right page, I think we’ll see a lot better results.”

Compare to Bruce Arena and Thomas Rongen’s teams, what are the biggest differences?
“Well, it’s a whole different set of guys. There’s only 4 or 5 of us left. We’re still feeling each other out. Although it’s been a year, I’m coming back, and Jaime is coming back still. So we’re learning each other still. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just bad karma.”

RH said yesterday that he thinks maybe a couple of players have given up on the season. From the player’s perspective have you seen that?
“I haven’t seen that. I’d hate to think so. That would be really disappointing, but who know? I haven’t . . . I haven’t come across anything.”

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