San Antonio FC opened their 2019 training camp on Friday as they prepare for their first preseason match on February 2 against the University of the Incarnate Word. With the start of the season quickly approaching, the SAFC roster came together for the first time for player orientation on Thursday before taking the field on Friday.
“It feels great to get back to work,” said SAFC midfielder Michael Lahoud. “You can feel that mentality and excitement in the air, and there’s a bit of a buzz.”
Inside the first few days of camp, the San Antonio technical staff assesses the squad to see where the players are physically on the field as well as mentally, and today’s session provided the first opportunity for this to take place. SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell was excited to get back on the field with the roster which includes 12 new faces.
“I think we obviously love to be on the field and on the grass,” said Powell. “It was really positive today. I told the guys at the end I was pleased with the intensity and enthusiasm. I am just extremely excited to be back on the field and excited to have the guys in camp.”
The players view the first couple of days of preseason as an opportunity to knock the rust off and begin to build up their physical fitness as they prepare for the more than month long preseason and upcoming regular season. Lahoud echoes Powell’s sentiment about using the time to get back into playing shape. Personally, the midfielder knows that these early days are key in many aspects of building a successful team on and off the field.
“I think the first couple of days are really about laying that foundation of fitness and building relationships within the team,” said Lahoud. “Personally, for me its working on reactions because mistakes are going to happen. We are also feeling guys out to see what their strengths are to help build chemistry.”
Even the first day doesn’t come without speedbumps. Just a few minutes into training and Lahoud already had his first bloody nose of the season. But these are just things that come with shaking off the cobwebs, he says.
Coach Powell understands each day in preseason is key as the club builds into working on tactics and game flow prior to their first preseason matches.
“Once we go into the first two weeks we are going to talk about how we want to play with and without the ball,” Powell said. “Then, we will embed the style of play we want for the 2019 season as we continue to work towards opening night at Toyota Field.”
Despite the bloody nose, Lahoud was all smiles following the first session of the year.
“We are the luckiest guys in the world getting to play the beautiful game,” said Lahoud. “We have the best jobs in the world.”