WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/CARY—Today's two hour training session began with some light jogging and stretching followed by a short passing game. For aspiring coaches out there, the game involved two players, three cones and a ball. After passing between two cones, the receiving player was required to take a touch moving the ball around a cone before sending his second touch back between two cones. After warming up with this for 10 minutes, the lads jogged lightly and stretched. Then they repeated the exercise in a competitive fashion, gaining points when their partner couldn't complete the move in two touches. The total time for the exercise was about 30 minutes. The three 'keepers, Levey, McClellan and Reed trained on their own, first by taking close range shots both high and low, and then by pulling crosses out of the air.
The second part of training was a game of 6 v 3 possession in a 15 x 10 yard area with the six players standing around the edge of the area. Touches were unlimited though it is mightily difficult to take more than two in such a confined space. There were three separate games watched by Rennie, and Triangle Fútbol Club coaches Henry Gutierrez and Dewan Bader.
The third segment of today's training was full field 11 v 11. This provided a good opportunity to see some of the new signings in action as well as to assess who has come into camp fit and ready to compete for a position. As David mentioned in his earlier post, some of the notable absences were Nuñez, Antoniuk and Watson. We know that Watson is due in camp after the indoor season finishes. Nuñez appears to have jumped ship to Puerto Rico. Antoniuk we are just not sure about yet.
Watching the 11 v. 11 the T.O. crew were scrambling to put names with faces. We saw familiar faces in Low, Solle, Norkus, McClellan, Fusilier, Diallo, Stokes, and possibly Curfman. We began to familiarize ourselves with new signings Josh Gardner, Daniel Paladini, Marcelo Romero, Luke Kreamelmeyer, Brian Plotkin, John Gilkerson, and Reed. It looked like Gardner would be the first choice on the left wing, with Romero providing solid cover for Watson in midfield.
Also on display were trialists Michael Callahan, Amir Lowery and El Hadj Cisse from U.N.C., Wake Forest, and N.C. State respectively. Lowery had a number of good moments in the center of midfield, maintaining possession in tight situations and distributing away from traffic. Cisse looked a little less comfortable at right back but has the physical attributes to play in the rough and tumble USL-1. It will be interesting to see if Coach Rennie brings these prospects along with pointed direction or if he remains mum, as he was for the entirety of the session.
At the end of training, nearly everyone walked off immediately to the showers. While I am by no means questioning the dedication or integrity of the players, it was a bit disheartening to see that no one stayed after training to practice free kicks or penalties (especially since a penalty was blocked and a free kick sent 20 yards over the goal during the scrimmage).
Training is open to the public everyday from 10 a.m. to noon and it's a great way to get familiar with players, coaches and the ways and means of professional soccer in the USA.