Camp Report: Off and running ...

As the Timbers conclude their first week of preseason training at PGE Park, midfielder Tony McManus shares his thoughts on how training camp is shaping up and how the team chemistry is developing in his latest Camp Report.

Here is Tony's report from preseason camp:
Well hello again from PGE Park and the second installment of my camp report! I have been able to show up early the last two days so I am excited about that. We are now entering our fourth day of preseason and if I can speak for everyone, my body feels like I was run over by a truck!

 
Tuesday’s session began with a short warm up and technical work then moved into some short possession games, which was short and sharp and then progressed into a 30 minute full-field scrimmage. The scrimmage was fairly good, but since the guys don’t have much experience playing with one another, organizing and figuring out each other’s habits has been an adjustment and there were a few miscues here and there. But, overall the play was encouraging and the scrimmage ended 1-1.
 
After the scrimmage we had a short cool down and then had some time off until the second session. Everyone assumed that maybe the play was good enough to warrant no running at the end of the first session, but little did we know or see what was in store for us in the second session of the day.
 
Once again, the group showed up and was told to wear runners for the first half of the session. We expected another exhausting running session with Amos (Magee), but not too bad so we can get some play in. We were so foolish to assume that ... we were divided into groups of two and started out doing different agility drills without the ball over the Nike Sparx hurdles 45 seconds at a time, then followed by a short recovery run while our partner went. We did about 15 minutes with the hurdles, and then took a lap around the field before repeating the same hurdles exercises, but this time we incorporated the ball which was nice. Now instead of focusing on how bad your legs hurt you had to focus on how bad your legs hurt then getting the ball back to your partner’s feet or hands. If you didn't find your partner’s feet or hands, you had penalties in the form of push-ups. Just to let all you guys out there know, Alex Nimo and I didn't have to do pushups until the very last set in which we felt that we needed to let the rest of the group know we are human and dropped the ball twice.
 
After we had finished with the Sparx hurdles we took a short jog around the field and back in for water; at that time, we thought we would change into our cleats and start practice with the ball. We were so wrong once again! Instead we lined up the entire group on one line behind a row of cones at the very edge of the baseball field facing another row of cones about 100 yards away. When Amos said “go” we had 15 seconds to get to the other side of the field and then 45 seconds to get back to where we originally started. Since we did the first six so well, the coaches rewarded us by taking take 10 seconds off rest away for the next four. Now it was 15 seconds there and 35 back, after that we did two more at 15 seconds there and 40 seconds back.
 
After we completed that we had a short rest in which we did what we thought was a cool down jog but really just setting us up for the next super hard run. Over the same distance we now split into four groups of five guys in each group and what you did was slowly jog between the cones as a group. Then, the first person in the group would sprint across the field around the yellow cone, back to the other ones and back to the group meanwhile the group continues jogging so you have to catch up to them. Then the next person now goes and so on till it gets back to you. You would get done and within a minute it would be your turn to do it all over – not a fun run at all. We did three of those each then split the field in half and did it between the half distance for three times each again. Following the run, we were set free to cool down, stretch, and get treatment. I never thought that I would be happy to sit in a sub-50 degree whirlpool, but this was one of those rare occasions, otherwise I probably wouldn’t be able to walk today.
 
So today is Wednesday and we show up everyone is hurting from the run yesterday, but that soreness is taken away after our 15 minute warm up. After the warm up, we split into groups to play some 5v2 which is always something nice to get touches on the ball and finish your warm up at the same time. The ground still was covered in ice from the night before and it was in the shade so that whole warm up was now out the door and you were in wet shoes with heavy legs …
 
The next drill took a bit of thinking, but once you figured out the rhythm it was pretty easy and a great drill to get some movement, quick thinking, and staying warm all at once. After the passing drill we split into two teams to play a small-sided scrimmage with goals on both end lines and the field split in half. It was designed for the attacking team to be able to change the point of attack and to make sure that the team is organized, providing options and have the defenders support the attack. I think this was probably the sharpest and best soccer that we had played since being in camp so far and I was really excited about the play from both teams. The play was sharp, the players were working hard, and we started looking like we are recognizing how each other plays.  
 
Twenty minutes later we moved into small-sided play with the goalies and split into three teams with the team sitting out doing core work. After the first session we had physicals so we had to stay through to the second session, but it was alright because we had a great lunch provided for us between sessions, which was way nicer than the fruit and granola I have been eating the last two days because I am too tired to make a lunch. The second session was a lot like the day before, but instead of the agility and speed work, it was a long-distance run. We had to run around a 300-yard track for 12 minutes – if our estimates were right, we ended up running two and a quarter miles, which is a sub six-minute mile pace. Almost everyone in the group did well and stayed with their respective group.
It is great to see that guys took their fitness seriously during the offseason.
 
Once we had finished the run we took it easy playing soccer/head tennis for the remainder of the practice which. So this was the end of day three and we are onto day four tomorrow (Thursday).

Posted by: Tony McManus