RAPIDS TRAINING REPORT: SHINING THROUGH

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The Rapids beat the snow this morning and were able to hold a session.  It was another physical display but you could tell that the 2 and 3 a day trainings are starting to get to the players.  This is where the real the quality players start to shine through.  The players that can handle the rigors of the pro game are rising to the top and those that can’t are starting to show.

Training Observations:

  • Akpan was getting to the end of crosses and getting himself into good positions.
  • Ross LaBauex played center mid again and looked comfortable. For a guy who was getting knocked for not having a good first touch he looked very comfortable on the ball the last few times I’ve watched him.
  • Devon Hodges was out there today.  He’s definitely a little stocky. He didn’t show too much today but I’m sure he’s still getting acclimated.
  • Omar Cummings looked sharp.
  • Colombian defender Oscar Murillo trained today.  He has good size and is pretty athletic.   He was marking Cummings and was able to chase him down a few times.   Murillo moved up on corner kicks as well. You can tell the elevation was getting to Murillo but he looked ok otherwise.
  • Wells Thompson looked good again.  On one play he cut through the midfield and ripped a brilliant shot with his left foot that just missed the upper angle.
  • Mehdi looked sharp. He was the most confident player on the ball in the scrimmage.
  • Danny Earls is quick but made a few bad decisions with the ball.  They are looking at him as an outside back and outside mid.
  • Diz and Schunk didn’t show too much today.  They played hard but you have to wonder if we have a viable option should Casey make the national team this summer.
  • Pat Noonan played a little center mid today.
  • Nick LaBrocca looked really good.  He’s a smart player and covers a lot of ground.

Notes:

  • The Rapids travel to Arizona this weekend.
  • Pablo Mastroeni did an interview this morning, check it out here:  2The Deuce

A few words with Oscar Murillo:

I caught Oscar Murillo after training.  In the best Spanish I could conjure up I asked him a few questions. Here is the jist of what he said:

He is very happy to be here and is excited about playing in MLS. When Murillo’s representative informed him that a team from MLS was interested in him, he jumped at the opportunity

He said he watched quite a few MLS games last year and that MLS gets good media coverage in Colombia.  He sees MLS as a more physical league and more tactical than Colombian soccer. He describes himself as a fast, athletic center back that is good in the air.

Right now his main focus is to learn the system, get along with his new teammates, and earn a starting spot.  He wants to help the team however he can.

Final Thoughts:

The coaches were demanding a little more of the players today.  The players needed to clean things up on both sides of the ball.  The play on the wings, in particular, was a little sloppy.  Most of the highlights came from Mehdi or LaBrocca being on the ball down the middle.  I think the better players are finally starting show.  Guys like LaBrocca, Cummings, Moor, and Mehdi, just to name a few, look like a different class.

It looked like a few players were running out of steam.  Legs looked a little heavier and the overall energy wasn’t as high as last week. Hopefully this snow will give them a little break to re-focus and rest up before going to Arizona.

CONOR CASEY CALLED TO THE NATIONAL TEAM

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Bob Bradley has called Colorado Rapids striker, Conor Casey, to the national team.  The players in camp will gather on February 10th at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.  This camp will be in preparation for the US’s friendly against El Salvador on February 24th.   This is one of the last opportunites for players to impress before the final roster is picked in May.

Conor Casey is looking more and more like the US’s best option in the target forward role.  Casey size and strength make him an asset to the national team.  He is deceptively skillful for a striker his size and I think that my the key to getting him on the final roster.  Brian Ching has been called into this camp as well and he is probably in direct competition with Casey for a roster spot.

Casey has 19 caps with the national team and 2 goals.  After the El Salvador match, the US will gather in Amsterdam for a friendly against 3rd ranked Netherlands on March 3rd.  With so many injuries to national team regulars (Dempsey, Onyewu, Davies, and Ricardo Clark) some of the MLS guys might get a chance against the Netherlands.

Here is the full roster:

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION

GOALKEEPERS (3): Troy Perkins (D.C. United), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Zach Thornton (Chivas USA)

DEFENDERS (7): Kevin Alston (New England Revolution), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Michael Orozco (Philadelphia Union), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Chris Pontius (D.C. United), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)

FORWARDS (4): Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Jeff Cunningham (FC Dallas), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake)

Share your thoughts on the roster.