The Earthquakes have been busy with two-a-day workouts at Oakland Coliseum as they prepare for the 2010 season. After their rest day on Wednesday, today saw the introduction of the soccer ball to practice. Yes, the team has been focusing on fitness drills for the better part of this initial training camp. With the running and stretching going well, attention was finally turned toward on-field workouts.
Nearly the complete roster is at camp now, with just Ryan Johnson missing due to Jamaican National Team duty. Two notable newcomers among the familiar faces are Brazilian striker Eduardo and former Montreal Impact midfielder Joey Gjertsen. Neither has officially signed with the club, but both are expected to in the near future. For Gjertsen, his contract status is in the league's hands. Meanwhile, Eduardo and the Quakes are still discussing terms toward an agreement to bring on the talented striker. In half-field scrimmages, both players impressed -- especially Eduardo in front of goal.
The only casualty on the sideline was Andre Luiz, who coach Frank Yallop explained had just gone through a simple procedure to drain fluid from his knee. Is any surgical procedure really simple? In this case it appeared to be, as just a day removed from the hospital, Andre Luiz did some light running and stretching. Also, forward Cornell Glen left the scrimmages early with tightness in his right leg, but only as a precaution.
The sharpest players during scrimmage? Hands down Arturo Alvarez looked great, scoring a couple very impressive goals. Yeah, we all know he favors going to his left with the ball, but with the ferocity of shot he displayed with that left foot, he is easily forgiven. Defender Brandon McDonald, fresh back from his stint training with the US Men's National Team also looked sharp. McDonald is entering his third year in MLS, and looks primed to make it a breakthrough campaign.
The tight quarters of half field scrimmages do not lend for lengthy possessions. Your side is rewarded for being skillful with the ball amongst numerous defenders. Both Eduardo and Alvarez looked comfortable in this setting, with Eduardo not only scoring with an excellent finish, but creating space in front of goal with some nifty footwork. It might not be as flashy as the latest Brazilian to come to the Bay Area (see Marta with FC Gold Pride), but was very effective on the day.
Finally, let's take a look at the rookies. First off, first round pick Ike Opara remains at Wake Forest, as he works toward graduation this Spring. As a Generation Adidas signing, he will be with the club this season (as a Developmental Player.) The fates of the others are far from definite. Justin Morrow looked very sharp in the scrimmages, and even gave current Quakes speedster Quincy Amarikwa a "run" for his money during team sprint drills. The Notre Dame product seems to have settled in quite nicely. Both Steve Beitashour and Andrew Hoxie, along with 2009 pick Brad Ring, did well on the day, nothing too spectacular, though Hoxie did have a nice finish later in the scrimmages. Who's missing? Well, coach Yallop let it be known that Morrow's Notre Dame teammate, Michael Thomas, has left the team to go on trial in Sweden. No word yet on whether he will return to train with the Quakes during the preseason.
I'll post again soon with some team news, including a tidbit related to our English Premier League partner club, Tottenham Hotspur. Very interesting indeed...