Preseason Notes: 2/27
The season opener against the San Antonio Scorpions at the Metrodome is just 38 days away, and Minnesota is hard at work preparing for its mission of reclaiming the Soccer Bowl trophy. If you haven’t already, join us today as a season ticket holder! Here’s a look at what’s been happening around the National Sports Center as the team continues its preseason.
Wednesday marked the second of three straight days of two-a-days and began with head coach Manny Lagos pushing the players to dig deep and push themselves to make Wednesday morning’s training session as intense as possible. Like Tuesday, Wednesday’s sessions were split into technical and on-field drills in the morning and a planned fitness session in the afternoon.
Following a short warm-up, Lagos led the team—including goalkeepers—in a technical drill to work on combination passes, making sure every player involved got frequent touches in several quick-burst sessions. After, the goalkeepers went off on their own with trainer Paul O’Connor, working on footwork, near-post saves and quick recoveries. Meanwhile, field players worked on possession in a drill that essentially left one team to try to take the ball from two teams. The session finished with a 6v4 drill that emphasized movement on defense while integrating the earlier passing drills. Forward Nate Polak grabbed the goal of the session with a 25-yard rocket that dipped at the last second to sneak in at the far post.
There’s new faces around the locker room, but new goalkeeper Daryl Sattler said the team-building is coming along quickly as new guys settle in and get to know their teammates. In the locker room, Connor Tobin, back for his second season in Minnesota, said the jokes are the same. On the field, Tobin said, it’s a challenge to get to know new players and their habits, especially while shaking off the offseason rust as the pace of play and quality of competition picks up.
The playoff beard is a time-honored tradition, but the preseason beard? Matt VanOekel, Kevin Friedland and Travis Wall are all letting their facial hair go, while defender Tobin continues to sport a mustache that would make Tom Selleck proud. Trialist Joseph Lapira might be leading the charge, though, with a beard that would fit right in amongst a camp of lumberjacks. Tobin, who played with Lapira in Norway, said the trialist might be a favorite in a “beard off,” as he said the 26-year-old is unafraid to do something crazy with his beards.