Thursday morning was my first chance to get out to Sporting Kansas City's pre-preseason training camp. (The Arrowhead Sessions are usually light affairs with the coaching staff focusing on fitness and timing.) Since it was my first glance at the team in action, here are my first impressions.
The last few years, the first week of training sessions have been sorta chaotic. New players meeting returning players. Tons of trialists competing for the attention of the coaching staff. The coaching staff crossing their fingers that everyone escapes unscathed.
This year was different. This year it was calmer and quicker.
Peter Vermes split the morning into two different sessions. The first consisted of what you would expect to be the "first team" only without Graham Zusi, Teal Bunbury, CJ Sapong and Roger Espinoza (who was missing for reasons I couldn't ascertain, but am sure it wasn't serious).
The second group featured the rookies and trialists and a few reserve players (Peterson Joseph and Kevin Ellis namely).
Splitting it as such gave the first-team practice a much crisper and livelier feel than in years past. It also means that Vermes has a head start on getting his players settled, familiar with each other and the system, and moving at game speed much faster this season.
A few other impressions.The players were crisp in seven-on-seven.
I'm sure Peter Vermes and Kerry Zavagnin might have other thoughts, but I was surprised at how clean and fast the game moved. Having the first team be this clean, this early has to be a promising sign for the future.Form is temporary, but first touch is permanent.
This likely won't happen, but if KC were to suffer an injury crisis at defensive midfielder, I think Zavagnin could walk into the team and still play at a high level.
He might trail only Julio Cesar and Convey in the first touch department.Aurelien Collin looks much thinner this year. I never got to the bottom of why
he looked much thinner, but it's not an un-healthy thinner. It looks like he has been training for speed and not bulk this year.Saad and Convey were very sharp and very impressive.
It's very dangerous to judge a player from a seven-on-seven game (see Djeziri, Adda), but it was hard not to notice those two.
Convey fit right in with his teammates and especially looked good working with Sinovic on the left-hand side. Saad and Kamara handled the forward roles, with Saad showcasing a very heavy and powerful shot. As James Starritt noted, he has that uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time.Nagamura and Peterson ran a lot.
Newcomers to a Vermes camp usually spend a lot of time running and not a lot of time playing. This was true of Nagamura and Peterson. Though it wasn't of Convey -- and that might give you an idea of how important Convey is to the team and how fit he was when reporting to camp.Alas, Birahim Diop was not there.
I don't know why he was absent, but just know that it makes The Full 90 very sad. (And makes me adopt the third person for some reason.)Besler was my first official interview of the year.
Why does that matter? Well, in 2010 my first interview was with Jimmy Nielsen. In 2011, it was C.J. Sapong.
Being The Full 90's first interview of the season is good luck. Look for a big year from "The Beast."
On Friday, I plan on taking a closer look at Dom Dwyer, Cyprian Hedrick and the rest of the trialists. I also hope to talk to Michael Thomas.