With the 2019 USL Championship season quickly approaching, San Antonio FC continues to prepare as a squad for their home opener against Phoenix Rising FC this Saturday. Three players in particular – defenders Eby Ackon and Johnny Fenwick; and midfielder Leeroy Maguraushe – are preparing to kick-off their first professional season in 2019.
All three players were plying their trade in NCAA Division 1 schools last season, racking up plenty awards and honors between the trio of them. But now, as the temperatures begin to finally rise in San Antonio, all three are putting the finishing touches on a solid training camp and preparing for their first professional season with the Alamo City club.
“It’s been great,” Ackon said of preseason. “This is a fantastic environment for me and I’m learning a lot. I’m getting accolated to the players around me and all my teammates have been welcoming and helpful. The past few weeks I’ve felt great and I’m really enjoying this.”
Maguraushe echoed Ackon’s sentiments about how preseason has progressed. With the group still gelling and continuing to learn about each other, it is vital to see team chemistry start to take shape. Despite this being their first experiences, Maguraushe speaks to the positivity that is currently coursing through the squad.
“It’s been amazing,” said Maguraushe. “I’m learning a lot of new things and I’m happy to be playing with this group. I’ve just been enjoying everything, really.”
Despite their enjoyment of camp so far, the players acknowledged the stark difference between the collegiate game and the professional game. All three were standout players with their respective schools, but when they joined the pros they joined a squad of players who were all standout college athletes who have also now added extensive professional resumes.
The transition is helped by the support they are getting from their teammates, the technical staff and the front office as the preseason comes to a close.
“It’s a big difference between college and the pros,” said Fenwick. “Obviously, the quality of play is a lot higher. The professionalism of this club is really good, so it’s certainly different from college.”
“The biggest change has been the speed of the game,” Maguraushe added. “Playing faster and thinking a lot more quickly has been the biggest challenge, but it’s been getting a little easier with time and I’m looking forward to continuing to progress.”
In Ackon’s case, the defender has been working on getting comfortable in multiple positions across the back line. In addition to the natural steps needed to be taken from the collegiate level to the professional level, these three talented rookies have also had to try and adapt to different positions and styles of play as the coaching staff determines the way they want to line up this Saturday in the opener against Phoenix.
“I’ve learned a lot in just a month,” said Ackon. “For instance, playing at left-back is a new role for me, so I’m learning to adapt, but the instructions that the technical staff has given me has been great and I’m getting used to the new role quickly.”
With just a few days separating the team from the start of their season, all three rookies continue to try and impress the staff to earn a spot on the first 18-man squad of the year. What doesn’t change however, is the collective team goals and the personal goals shared between members of its roster. Each of them is looking for success on the field and they are willing to adapt to whatever role helps achieve that.
“We have come in and everyone has been at it from the off,” said Fenwick. “We are learning a new style of play and a new identity. We have been coached really well and we are in the right positions going into Saturday’s game.”
“I’m hoping for a lot of success for this team,” Maguraushe concluded. “We have an extremely talented group and we want to win a championship, and to be able to do that in my first season as a professional would be absolutely amazing.”