Alarm clocks all across the resort began to sound, signaling the commencement of the San Jose Earthquakes 2019 preseason camp in Cancún, Mexico. After a lengthy travel day on Thursday, with a few speed bumps along the way, the players and staff had no time to waste and began piling out of their respective rooms for a light snack in the meal room.
Before long, the Quakes contingent – nearly 50 strong – headed to a nearby field for an intense training session as the sun was still making its way into the morning sky. Head coach Matias Almeyda, hired to resurrect the historic club to prominence, has made it clear from the beginning that San Jose will be a handful for any and all opponents in 2019. One way he plans to accomplish this: by simply outworking everyone else.
“It was tough,” explained veteran center back Guram Kashia. “It was a long session, but really explosive. There were a lot of things that we’re not used to yet. It’s exciting getting to experience new exercises. Obviously, Matias has his vision and wants to play a certain way, which I think the people in San Jose would like. It’s definitely going to be an exciting season. After the first session, I can say that.”
The team went through a variety of exercises, including pass-and-move drills, creating space on and off the ball, and fundamentals. If he didn’t like the way something was being done, he told them. If he thought anyone could work harder than they were, he told them. It was very clear from the get-go that Almeyda commands respect.
One thing the Quakes did not work on Friday morning was anything tactical.
“It was just our first training session, but as time goes by, we’ll begin adapting to a specific style of play,” explained the Argentine manager, donning a backwards cap. “Overall, I was happy with the players’ intensity and we’ll continue to make every day more intense as the season approaches.”
While San Jose is training in a tropical paradise, don’t mistake it for a walk on the beach. Almeyda and his staff have laid out a strict set of rules and daily schedule to rapidly build this squad up before the season opener on March 2.
“I’ve never been so long in a training camp, but we probably need that,” said Kashia. “Last season wasn’t good, so we need to put some work in. This is going to be a really hard training camp. Every day, we have two sessions, wake up at six in the morning and 7:30 we start the session.”
Young Homegrown goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski shares the same sentiment as Kashia.
“It was great. It was tough, but I think that’s exactly what we need. I think whenever you spend a lot of time with one group of people, you obviously get closer and the chemistry builds.”
As for what ground rules were laid out, the former U.S. U-20 goalkeeper said:
“Mainly it’s just be a professional. He doesn’t really have to tell us twice. Luckily there’s a lot of veteran guys on the team to carry the young guys along, including myself. Be smart, be professional. We’re here for a reason. This is our job, and this is what we love to do. This is not a vacation.”
Not a vacation is right. The team immediately went from the training field to an ice bath to breakfast. They will soon meet back in the meal room for lunch and then head over to the field for a second session. This will be the norm for the duration of the stay.
“I can’t wait for the next 15 days here.”