The second day of training kicked off at Sylvan Lake Park and media members got a first-hand look at some of the new Lions in the early stages of this MLS preseason. We had our eyes on the attacking side of the ball along with the goalkeepers in a combination finishing drill to end training and there were a few highlights:
- Adam Grinwis, the newest goalkeeper, looked applicable as a shot-stopper and could be in the mix to push Edwards for the backup spot.
- Rookie Chris Mueller looked a little timid, tight in his touch but had some phenomenal work in the air, which was unexpected from the 5-foot-7 striker.
- Josúe Colmán looked very comfortable on the ball — and often cheeky — frustrating the Lions’ goalkeepers.
- A number of academy and Monteverde players were on hand to fill training numbers.
It’s always good to remember this is just the second day of preseason and there is a lot of rust and unfamiliarity to work through this early. The count of new players in training is up to 10 if you consider this is Dillon Powers’ and Yoshimar Yotún’s first training camp. Add in those academy players and you’re not going to get clean and crisp right out of the gate.
Mueller emphasized that sentiment in his post training interview, saying that a lot of these early training are “a lot of building chemistry, just understanding where your teammates are going to move...still learning our tendencies and what we want to do as team.”
Mueller said he sees himself as an attacking player who prefers to work centrally and high on the pitch more than anywhere else. So, for those thinking with his college assist numbers that he might be workable in a play-making, deeper-lying role, that’s not currently in the rookie’s sights.
A common theme in the post-training comments was the amount of new talent, specifically in the attacking part of the team and how that is going to coming into the season. Assistant Coach Miles Joseph talked about the outlook with all these new players mixing in with the veteran talent.
“Everybody now has a chance to prove themselves,” he said. “And I think we’re going into this preseason with a clean slate, more than we ever have. So we’re excited about that.”
In talking about Pinho — the NASL’s Golden Boot winner -- Joseph gave a little insight into the expectations of his role with the team.
“I think he can play in a variety of different ways,” Joseph said. “He’s played on the wing and I think he could play with two [strikers] as well.”
This could be encouraging if he does own this well-rounded skill set. While a lot of attackers have been brought in, position flexibility will be key as a long MLS season goes on, especially when the Lions lose Yotún to World Cup duty. Something to keep an eye on as preseason rolls on is how Pinho adapts to a variety of positions.
It was also great to see Mason Stadjuhar out on the field helping his teammates as he battles his way back from an off-season diagnosis of Localized Ewing Sarcoma. We certainly wish him well in his recovery.
Check out a few more photos from today, including Joe Bendik’s sweet, sweet mullet: