Recapping the Philadelphia Union’s opening week of preseason

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It was a pretty eventful first week of Union preseason. Players returned to form, draft picks made their first impressions, new signings sured up their American visas, trialists came to try out and earn a spot and one guest appeared to get to train with the team. Let’s go through each of these four groups one by one to see them, and how they did!

The Return:

The Union’s returnees came back to camp, and right off the bat there was a sense of camaraderie and fun. Before training even started the Boys were had a ball showcasing the new away jersey.

The returning players took the field and it was all business. Good hard training sessions emerged, drills and small sided games helped the Union get back into shape. The returning players seemed to pick up right where they left off in October. Weather did not play a factor, their drive is pushing this team to become great!

The end of the week brought Media day, and even here there was an intensity brought by the Union’s returner’s.

The Returning players are the leaders of this squad. As they go, the rest of the team goes. Their mentality rubs off on the newcomers, especially the draft picks.

Draft Picks:

The young draftees coming into camp are fighting for a spot in professional soccer. Whether it be with the Union or their affiliate Bethlehem Steel. The Union’s top pick Marcus Epps took a minute after training to discuss how it is to be with the Union, fighting for a job.

Epps isn’t the only rookie getting noticed in camp. Forward, Santi Moar, had such a good first week of camp that he was signed to a professional contract with Bethlehem Steel.

The other Union draftees look to impress the coaching staff in the coming weeks. There should be room, in either the Union or with Steel, for all these rookies.

New Signings:

The Union’s new signings, striker Jay Simpson  and Defender Giliano Wijnaldum did not practice with the Union last week. Both were finalizing their work visas. Wijnaldum was with the team this weekend, and is now going to be training with the team.

Simpson is another story. He has yet to meet up with the Union, and it is said that he wont be with the team until they travel to Clearwater Florida.

These two players will be come into camp, and will be battling for starting spots. Both are trying to win the starting spots, they’ll have to come in and impress, to beat out Fabinho and Sapong.

Trialists:

The Union have two trialists with the team, each could make great offensive additions. A former New York Red Bulls homegrown product, Adam Najem has been on trial with the Union. The playmaker, can play the 10 and the eight; however, he is raw attacking talent better suits him when he is higher up the pitch. His talent has shown the coaching staff something. The same can be said of Fafa Picault. Picault, the US International is looking for a new club, and the wingers speed is catching the eyes of Curtin and Stewart. Both are making a good impression and will continue their trials with the team down in Clearwater Florida. Maybe, while they’re down there they will become permanent Union members.

Special guest:

The Union had a special guest in camp with them this past week. It was none other than former USMNT player Oguchi Onyewu.

Onyewu was training with the team to get his fitness up, but as it turns out, his fitness was apparently very good. Curtin and Stewart praised the veteran center back saying that he hasn’t lost much of a step for not playing a game in the past two years. Apparently he made a great impression, and showed he has a lot left in the tank.

This morning the Union signed Onyewu. He will bring some great veteran leadership to this young Union back line. Look for a full breakdown of the signing soon on Philly Sports Network.

The second week of Union preseason kicked off today. The team travels to Clearwater Florida to continue preseason. Thy will get their first preseason matches down in Florida soon. Come back to Philly Sports Network for more Philadelphia Union preseason news. Until then, peace out Union fans.

 

 

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

 

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