Wednesday afternoon brought the third day of Sporting Kansas City preseason activities, and the second of preseason training. After Tuesday's first day of training brought a much higher level of intensity than most expected, Wednesday dialled it back a bit and gave the coaching staff a chance to evaluate the players' fitness levels.
While Tuesday was short, sweet and action-packed, Wednesday was a more drawn out, paced training session. Nothing super in-depth today, but a few bullet point thoughts of what went on at Wednesday's training, and maybe a guy or two to keep an eye on.
Wednesday was "Beep Test Day" - something the players were assuredly (not) excited about. You remember that test where you run from one line to another while a disc on speaker beeps at a time you are required to reach the destination line? Yeah, that one. Some call it the Pacer Test, but as Kei Kamara always notes on Twitter, the beep test gives him nightmares.
Anyway, Kamara was one of the better performers in the dreaded fitness test. Taking part in the first group, (there were two) I seem to recall him being one of the last three or four (of about 25) left standing. The first group was won by, of all people, Sam Scales, rookie midfielder from Ohio State. My horse in the race, trilaist Adda Djeziri, came in a close second with Kamara dropping shortly before.
First round SuperDraft pick CJ Sapong made it 2-for-2 to the rookies when he topped the second group, beating out captain Davy Arnaud and newly re-signed rightback Michael Harrington. I had Korede Aiyegbusi, who finished fourth, in that group.
The rest after the jump...
Englishman trialist Calum Butcher looks an interesting case. He looked pretty comfortable in the 8-v-8 competition with one man always playing on the offensive side. Aiyegbusi ran at him a couple times from wide left and Butcher looked physical enough to dispossess the solid little left-sided player.
A bit later, Butcher struck a hard ball from nearly midfield of the one-third sized field that dipped and swerved, beating keeper Jon Kempin high right on goal. It was nice to see the technique on the shot and such a well-struck ball, but do keep in mind as a centerback, (which he says he himself says he is) he won't often find himself 25 yards from goal with the ball at his feet.
Also, one last thing on Butcher, tone down a bit of the excitement over his size. His Wikipedia page does indeed list him as 6'5", but in person, it's fairly obvious he's not. When asked after training about his height, he confirmed he was more 6'2" than 6'5", but must be listed taller because "I jump that high."
Omar Bravo is cheeky; so cheeky. His first touch is borderline brilliant and well ahead everyone else on the field. He played a bit of 8-v-8 as and exclusively offensive-sided player and looked quality the entire time.
Bravo is unquestionably a total professional in the way he carries himself and performs. The only fear with Bravo's technical ability and creativity? As James from Sporting Times.net said to me, "I hope the rest of the team can keep up with him."
Approval level rising of this designated player signing.
- Jack Jewsbury looked fleet of foot as I can ever remember. Jewsbury lost significant playing time last year to Craig Rocastle, and it looks as if Jack chose to put in work during the offseason to work his way back. During the short 8-v-8, he looked to be maybe the quickest player on the field while on the ball.
Injury notes. As was the case on Tuesday, forward Ryan Smith was absent from practice to rehab a knee injury. It is unclear whether it is the same injury that hampered Smith in 2010 (because it is on the same knee) that has lingered over the offseason. Quite possibly, though, it could be a simple fact of Vermes not wanting to put the miles on a somewhat fragile, important piece of the puzzle before he absolutely has to. My theory: why burn him out when you don't need to when you know he's on the roster?
Luke Sassano again had a large brace/tape on his previously operated-on right ankle, but took part in the agility testing, (which I couldn't help but notice must have hurt) beep test and, I believe, the 8-v-8, although I could be wrong on that last one.
Matt Besler, who looked quick in the agility test, lasted pretty deep in the beep test and took part in the 8-v-8, was sporting a thick wrap on his left calf. Apparently, it wasn't bad, though, as he was a full participant in all the day's activities.
Finally, I've saved my favorite for last. Adda Djeziri looks an incredibly exciting prospect. Disclaimer: this is all from two days of short training, but I can't help a little excitement creeping in. Unlike Butcher, Adda is every bit the 6'3" that his Wiki page lists him at. He's long and thin, but for such, impressively quick on his feet and shifty.
The highlight of the 8-v-8 practices were a pair of goalzo's, one of which came from the left foot of Adda, the other a left-footed first time strike from leftback Roger Espinoza. After taking a handful of touches down the left sideline, (the abbreviated field about as wide as the traditional 18 yard box) Adda lined up a left-footed strike that made a laser beam headed for the far right post, beating first-team goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, who he is coincidentally staying with during his time in Kansas City at present moment.
Again, we've seen him for a total of 30 minutes over two days, but when simply put on the field, Adda has not wasted the opportunity to show technical director/head coach Peter Vermes and the rest of the coaching staff that he can make things happen.