And we’re underway…
At 7:30am, San Jose Earthquakes players and staff descended on the meal room for an early breakfast ahead of their first training session in Coachella. The team then watched film before loading onto a bus and making the 25-minute drive to the training field. The drive featured rotating views of bustling retail areas, communities of homes, and at times, nothing more than sand and tumbleweeds. There are mountains on all four sides, the tallest of which had snowy-white peaks. Tommy Thompson, the team’s unofficial deejay, played a classic mix that consisted of J Cole, Ja Rule, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others.
The expansive training ground had two large fields with enough grass to make at least two more. The fields were very peaceful and completely surrounded by tall palm trees. It wasn’t a particularly hot day, but there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky to provide any semblance of shade.
Training started with a mix of keep-away and dynamic stretching activities before moving into conditioning. In one drill, players would jump over a few hurdles, sprint around a stake in the ground, and head the ball towards a makeshift goal. Meanwhile, another player would complete the same tasks in the opposite direction before running to protect said goal.
Outfield players and goalkeepers separated for a while before reuniting for quick-hitting 3v3 transitional practice. One team would drive towards the goal at speed and attempt to score. Any goal, turnover, or missed/saved shot would result in the attackers becoming defenders and a new trio would come on from the end line with pace.
Head coach Luchi Gonzalez then had the team work on set pieces, utilizing corner kicks and dangerous free kick positions. While the offense attempted to score, the defense would not just try and clear the ball, but transition to attack the other direction.
Players were then put through cool-down stretches and provided protein shakes and snacks before packing onto the bus to return for showers and lunch.