Practice Observations 3/2

After standing through the brisk winter weather in Columbus Wednesday, hanging out at practice today was pleasant to say the least.Ê To say the most it was downright enjoyable.

TR wasn’t at practice.ÊA family member is ill and he is back in Holland.Ê Best wishes go out to him and his family.

  • Etcheverry in Bolivia

  • Albright was out of practice sick.

  • Olsen is somewhere between LA and Nottingham Forest, either injured or healthy.Ê Nobody seemsto really know.

  • Pope and ‘Bobbinho’ are out in LA for the USA v. Brazil game.Ê There is some expectation that Convey will see time during the game.

  • Talley is still hampered by the groin strain.Ê It is day to day, up and down for him.Ê Kicking isn’t a problem, but constant running puts a great deal of strain on him.

  • The most troubling is Moreno.ÊHe is back in Bolivia.Ê Hisclean-up surgery on his knee was said to be similar to what Pope went throughlast year.Ê As everyone remembers, while Eddie P. came back fairly quickly, it wasn’t at 100%.Ê Moreno is progressing "slower than expected" but it isintentional by the team.Ê The mainconcern of the team is to bring him back to 100% and not force him to play at 90% health or not in game shape. The final prognosis is that he is expected back sometime in April – maybe for the first game, maybe not.

  • Also, RDA wasn’t at practice.ÊApparently the same day that Seattle had its earthquake, El Sal suffered a tremor also.Ê He hasn’t heard from hisfamily and is going back home to check things out.

  • Added to the team today was a kid from American Univ.Ê His first name is either Brian or Ryan.

  • Also with the team on a part-time basis as an assistant/scoutis Todd West.Ê West is the current head coach of American Univ.

Curt Onalfo led the practice today.Ê It started with the standard warm-ups that moved into 7 v. 7 keep-away between teams on a 1/2 field.Ê There were three iterations of this starting with two-touch, then one-touch then unlimited touch.Ê The one thing that strikes me is that the touch on the ball forthe most part is significantly better than last year’s similar games.Ê There seems to be better anticipation by the passing player leading others to open spaces.ÊI’m particularly impressed with Namoff’s ability.Ê Also, ‘Chino’ holds the ball at his feetbetter than most.Ê Combined with his ‘grass-cutter’ passes, it makes him an outstanding ball holding midfielder.

Then the team went into a small side scrimmage of 7 v. 7 w/GKs.Ê The only rule was that in thedefensive end only two touches were allowed.ÊFor the most part it was a strong defensive affair on both sides (seebelow for teams).Ê One beautiful shot, with an equally beautiful save came off an out of the air one timer by Nelsenand a lay-out save by Hannig to push it around the far post.Ê At half time you saw both sides huddlingaround and discussing tactics and such.ÊIn particular you saw Nelsen talking with Salas (which apparently worked- see below) and J.Cooks talking with Norkus – lots of hand motions talkingabout potential runs etc.Ê Almostscarily reminiscent of J. Wolff’s run during the US v. Mexico game, after receiving a pass from Nelsen, Salas took the ball into the far corner.Ê As Goodlett posted against him, Salas squeezed around Goodlett along the back line, centered the ball to an onrushing Nelsen who slotted it home not giving Ammann any chance at stopping it.

The warm down consisted of the team breaking into threegroups, finishing, free kicks and long ball passing.Ê I was closest to the free kick that included Nelsen, Denton and Kamler.Ê None of them have the ability to dip the ball up and over a wall.ÊHowever, the accuracy was particularly good from the latter two.

You wanted uniform numbers?ÊHere’s what they are using at the moment:

Conteh – 20
Nelsen – 7
Namoff – 26
Denton – 5
Watson – 4
Ziadie – 19 – BTW pronounced "Zay-dee"
Norkus – 27
Salas – 28
M.Cooks – 33
Goodlett – 24
Kamler – 8
Alegria – 13
J.Cooks – 6
Simpson – 2
Ammann – 1

Practice Observations 2/6

The team is beginning to stress more endurance. After the warm-ups they ran 3/4 pace . .. and ran some more . . . and some more . . . and some more – nobody lagged.

Then the team broke into two diamond formations for passing drills. First two touch around the diamond. Then a series of two touch across the diamond. Then touch n’ go drills around the diamond – Player

The final phase was gold, black and blue 6 man teams with GKs. Two teams played while the third circled the playing area (1/2 field) and played offensively. The physical speed of the teams is significantly higher than last year. The big question is can the younger players adjust to the mental speed of the game.

After the practice TR said that all of the players could make this team. I don’t think he just saying that because all of the players are pushing each other. Depending on what happens to Olsen, eventually three players will be cut. Guys like Ziadie and Namoff are pushing to make the squad – both very flexible in positioning. Likewise, Alegria is showing well in his versatility – speculation that he playes a holding midfielder?

Namoff was out with the flu.

Moreno is still healing – still out a couple weeks.

Etcheverry – Bolivia Expected to be back on March 20

Quaranta – U-17’s

Convey – Nat’s in Columbus

Talley out with a groin muscle pull day to day – He worked out with trainer but not with the team

Ammann seems so confident in net. His stops look effortless even when he is diving. I don’t remember seeing any balls slip out of the hand and roll into the net – Simo and Hannig each had one; on the couple of occassions that he jumped up to deflect a dangerous shot, it was almost a skip-jump and not a "throw the body wildly with arms out-stretched, etc." type of jump. It is something that I’ll have to watch more closely, but it seems that his positioning as a GK is better than the others.

Watch for ‘Dents.’ Probably the least obtrusive player on the team so he doesn’t attract much attention. However, watching him today his passes were very sharp and first touch control well done. Could he be playing himself into the starting back line? Does the team really need Berhalter/Regis/(insert defensive allocation)?

With Convey being called up to the Nats, he will not be with the team for the next several weeks. Immediately after the Mexico/Brazil games he heads to the U-20’s camp for the World Championship coming up in April. He will probably be back around the third week of March – then again, he might get called into the US Camp for the Honduras game.

Still nothing solid on the Olsen deal. There is some concern and frustration building because much of what will occur surrounds the allocation if he is transferred.

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Practice Observations

The players took the field just as the snow started to come down. By the time warm-ups were completed a fine sheet of the white-stuff covered the playing area.

Warm-ups, then the team broke into 3 groups and rotated through each. The first group played 6 v. 1 "man in the middle." This continues to be the one scrimmage between players where they can ‘face’ each other – the ultimate ‘face’ nutmegging the man in the middle.

The second group was 3 v. 3 w/ GKs on 1/3rd field. Normal play with the exception that the attacking team had to shoot from outside the box. In one series in the span of one minute Conteh, J.Cooks, and Convey all rang the posts, but nothing went in.

The final group was a small field 3 v. 3 with small goals. Of note, Norkus, Salas and Goodlett were particularly impressive with their footwork in tight areas.

The final phase was a 9 v. 9 w/ GK’s on 1/2 field – "young’ins versus old farts." It didn’t seem to be a serious in that the players flowed all over the field and didn’t maintain positioning – Ammann played forward and was egged on by TR with "don’t let the goalie score!" I didn’t see which defender it was, the players were fully bundled up and difficult to recognize during the run of play, but a new techique was implemented during one dangerous counter. As Conteh broke into goal, a snowball smacked him in the side causing just enough distraction to Conteh to loose control of the ball.

Not only is Nelsen going to be a starter in this league, he will probably be one of the top defensive mids.

TJ Hannig continues to fly all over the GK box. He is of decent size and isn’t afraid of much. Although it is a good sign to see a GK that is willing to defend his box, you’ve got to wonder how long until he meets an immoveable force and gets injured . . .

‘Simo’ made an outstanding save . . . diving to his left.

If Ammann has any ill-will towards coming to DCUnited he doesn’t show it. Throughout the practice he was one of the ‘voices’ that stood out above the rest. A great deal of encouragement.

Does anyone know this Convey kid? He is going to be good this season. His composure and maturity are superior to most of his teammates. My guess, with the U-20 World Championships and the MLS season to get the publicity, barring injury, Convey will be on the transfer block by the time playoffs roll around.

Of other interest, Vauderill was practicing with the team on Wednesday. Apparently there were some talks between the team and him. However, nothing came about from those talks. Don’t hold your breath thinking he will sign with DCUnited, he just signed with the Baltimore Blast. However, it is nice to know that their is an MLS experienced player just up the road.

Practice Observations 02-15

The wet weather, combined with the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) announcement, brought out some rather important facts. First and foremost, if the field is too soggy to play on, it is possible that RFK will not allow the team to practice on it? As one staff member put it, "the team might have to practice in the tunnels." Although we as fans might want a stadium soon, it seems more important that the team and organization get an admin facility with a couple of practice fields. Just a thought. . .

Absent: Etcheverry (Bolivia), Ammann, Moreno (injury)

Quaranta did practice. For a kid who is 16, he definately doesn’t look like it. Comparing him with Convey of last at this time of the season, Quaranta actually seems to be more confident and self-assured around the "adult" players. On the field there is no confidence problems. His size is sufficient to play immediately versus Convey of last year.

Warm-ups . . .

One touch drills . . .

Laps (roughly 3/4 pace) . . . and more laps . . . and more laps . . . and more laps – Conteh a little weak on the final lap. It has been several months since he practiced, but there was a noticable lack of stamina.

The final phase was a variation of keep-away with a transition game thrown in. The squad split into three groups, two sides and a transition team.

After practice I talk with TR. He is pleased with the first week of the season. "The younger players bring a lot of energy to practice," is how TR summed it up. "Practice is fun which makes it much better."

There has been some mention of "cut-down" dates. TR said the team didn’t have to worry about it. "The league is still working on a specific date," TR said. Because the roster exemptions of the P-40’s and that Mark Lisi will not count against the roster (attending college), "everyone will be here for at least another couple of weeks."

Also, not knowing the status of Ben Olsen presents problem. Re-iterating what KP said on last Monday’s show, TR said that there are plans to use the allocation, but not knowing ‘Beninho’s’ future is putting a crimp in them.

One other thing of note is that the "Giant’s Cup" is probably going to be a home-home series around the first week of April. The winner of that series will play a second tournament at the end of April that will have four team’s competing for the top spot. The winner of the second tournament will advance to CCC Club Cup.

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