If any players thought Sunday would be a nice way to gently settle into preseason, the coaches didn’t quite agree. The team hit the ground running to set the standard for the weeks ahead.
Players and staff woke up for breakfast before sunrise and were on the bus to the training field by 8:15 a.m. A short drive later, the team climbed a set of stairs to the large open grass area, equipped with three full size fields adjacent to one another.
While the morning was frigid, the temperature rose quickly as players exchanged sweatpants and jackets for shorts and t-shirts. Strength coach Guido Bonini put the team through a seemingly standard warmup routine, which consisted of light jogs, stretching, pass-and-move drills, and juggling.
Head coach Matias Almeyda took over from there. There were at least half a dozen strenuous drills back-to-back, including a speed dribbling race that pinned groups of six or seven against one another. Each time it appeared training was coming to an end, another corner of the large field setup was ready to go.
Following lunch and a rest period, the team returned to the training field for their second session of the day. The drills the team ran were generally focused on moving the ball side to side, advancing the ball quickly, and using a good first touch to beat a defender up the line.
At the conclusion of practice, and as a reward for the team’s hard work, Almeyda lined them up at the top of the 18-yard box for a game. Each player would attempt to complete five juggles with their feet, then five juggles with their thigh, then five juggles with their head, before shooting the ball goalward and hitting the net on a fly. Only two players were able to get it on their first try: Eric Remedi and Benji Kikanovic. Niko Tsakiris, the youngest player on the squad, also completed the task but was disqualified for stepping just inside the penalty area on his shot.
An observation was made in the morning that for the first time in his professional career, Shea Salinas is the eldest member of his team. At 35, he’s one of just two players on the Quakes current roster over 30 (Jan Gregus turns 31 next week).