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Match Fitness and Acclimation to Orlando City Running Smoothly for Corey Ashe

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As Tally Hall put it on Tuesday, being traded sucks. But new Orlando City left back Corey Ashe's transition has been going about as well as could be expected, both on and off the field.

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One of the most difficult aspects of professional sports – and one that is often glossed over by fans and media – is the transition an athlete must make upon being traded. It's not as simple as swapping one jersey for another of a different color and resuming business as usual.

Orlando City goalkeeper Tally Hall provided some introspection into the process that new Lions left back Corey Ashe is going through following Tuesday's training session at Sylvan Lake Park.

"It sucks being traded," Hall said bluntly. "It's not fun to be traded. There are a lot of things off the field that you've got to deal with that people don't realize, so it's a difficult time."

Among the off the field matters are finding a place to live, which Ashe said he's in the process of doing, and finding your way around a new, unfamiliar city – Google Maps has been Ashe's best friend since being shipped to Central Florida on July 14.

These off the field adjustments are not just for the player to make, but in the case of Ashe, a married man, they are also to be made by his wife. In this respect, it has been beneficial for Ashe to be reunited with Hall, with whom he played in Houston from 2009 to 2014.

"Any time you have friends around the league that will look after you, it's fantastic," Ashe said Tuesday when asked about Hall.

On the field, Ashe made his debut for the Lions on Saturday against New York Red Bulls and performed well. Not only was it his debut in purple, but it was his first MLS appearance of the season as he had been stuck behind DaMarcus Beasley in recent months for the Dynamo after making 20 starts for Houston in 2014.

Any player will tell you that there is a difference between general fitness and match fitness, as the intensity of a game can be simulated on the practice field, but not exactly duplicated. For Ashe, however, the lack of match time in Houston provided an opportunity to focus more on his conditioning, which helped him greatly in his 90-minute shift against NYRB on a humid Florida evening in mid-July.

"In Houston, even though I wasn't playing, I was probably doing more fitness than I think I've ever done in my career," Ashe said. "It won't take me long to get my game shape up with the more games I play, but this past weekend I felt pretty good out there."

The extra conditioning paid dividends for both Ashe and OCSC, which had to rely on the newly acquired fullback on the left due to a red card suspension for Luke Boden and Brek Shea's ongoing recovery from a sports hernia.

For a man playing in his first league match of the season and shaking off the proverbial rust, Saturday night's performance from Ashe was solid overall and received rave reviews from his teammates. Hall, who credited Ashe's astute ability to adapt on the pitch to his switch from midfield to defense five years ago, called his outing phenomenal against Red Bulls winger Lloyd Sam.

"For him to come in and play the way he did wasn't surprising at all because he's a veteran – he understands the game, he studies the game," Hall remarked. "He was a midfielder-turned-defender and so he had to really analyze the game a little bit more and start thinking about the game a little bit more [in the mindset] of a defender."

With Boden back in the fold, Ashe won't be the only option for Orlando on the left moving forward, but as a savvy veteran of MLS with great pace he will certainly have a role to play for City. His game could be better suited than Boden's for the pitch that the Lions will be playing on at Yankee Stadium this weekend against New York City FC, which is the minimum 110-by-70-yard size allowed under international rules.

The weekend lineup remains to be seen, but for now Ashe is just happy about the opportunity to chip in that he wasn't getting in Houston.

"Any time you can get back on the field and contribute it's a great feeling."