Social Media Mailbag: Thursday, Mar. 8, 2012
In this week's edition, we look at the College Friendlies and other preseason topicsEarlier today I had the chance to sit down with Head Coach Adrian Heath to get your questions answered. It’s time for this week’s Social Media Mailbag.
Who has stood out so far in training camp so far?
I think the best player this preseason has been Jerome (Mechack). I know that he caught the eye of quite a few MLS clubs and a couple of foreign clubs at the Disney tournament. He’s come back really fit, and is starting to take in all of the information we’ve been giving him.
I’m not embarrassed to say that this time last year, I’m thinking “is he going to be able to take this sort of information on?” It’s not a case of just taking it on, but actually implementing it as well. The great thing is the stuff we’ve been on at him for weeks and weeks are starting to appear naturally in his game. He’s had a great preseason so far.
The Old Dominion friendly was very competitive. Do you see the remaining college friendlies being the same way?
The sheer fact that these kids are playing against professionals, and they themselves want to be professions...I call it the ultimate reality show. They actually get a chance to be in front of a professional coach for 90 minutes, playing in a game.
Nick Sowers and Justin Clark [two current trialists], although I’d seen them a lot this year, proved in the game [against Rollins] last year that they were decent footballers. That stayed in my mind. When we play Stetson against Johnny Mendoza who has signed for our Under 23s team, when we play UCF...they see this as an opportunity.
From a coach’s point of view, it’s good because you know you’re not going to get an easy game. They’re going to run through everything for 90 minutes. For us, it’s really good competition. We expect the same for the next three, four games. I don’t think we’ll get an easy ride in any of the upcoming games, and nor should we. I expect us to win, but I know they’ll be competitive.
For our players, it’s just another game in the process of getting fit. As I’ve said before, the most important thing is being ready for Charlotte on April 7. We have to fit, mentally prepared, and have everyone available for selection. If we do that, it’ll have been a great preseason.
Against Old Dominion, one of their players that stood out was the goal scorer, Yannick Smith. If you see a player during the College Friendlies, do you inquire about his availability/interest in playing pro?
The difficult part with the college kids is the coaches don’t want to lose their players yet. I think the secret for us is finding out when these players are officially available. We know more and more players are leaving school before their four years are up.
We have strong relationships with a lot of the college coaches - UCF, Rollins, Stetson, even Old Dominion thanks to Ian Fuller’s ties to the coach. The balancing act part for the coaches is they want to win, do well for their school, but for the kids, they want to go pro and want to find the right time for them to go pro. I think we’ve done a decent job of it over the last couple of years, knowing when players are available.
Virtually every player that was drafted (in the 2012 MLS drafts) in the first round was on our board. We’d seen them or knew of them at some stage. Even some kids that were drafted in the later rounds, we knew of them. It’s part of the process for us in the offseason. With some of those players we have to hope they fall through the cracks in MLS.
One of those players is Aaron Schoenfeld. What’s the situation with him?
We’re actively speaking with Aaron’s agent. He was drafted by Montreal, and from what I’ve heard some of the staff wanted to keep him. Sometimes it’s a numbers game. If they were two years in, they probably would have kept him, given him more time to develop. He’s a perfect example of a guy we kept an eye on. Rob Valentino is another.
Kieron Bernard had offseason surgery on his ankle, and it looks like he’s been slow to recover. How is he progressing?
He’s got a couple minor knocks. The worry about players that have surgery in the offseason is they come into preseason wanting to do everything, but they aren’t physically ready and end up picking up secondary injuries. That’s been the case with Kieron.
We’re fortunate that our preseason is longer than others at our level because of the MLS games we’ve played. We still have time to get him ready.
In addition to Adrian’s responses, we had a couple other great questions I wanted to make sure were addressed.
What’s the status of Logan Emory?
Following the Philadelphia Union friendly, Emory was brought into camp with Toronto FC, so he is no longer with us. We’ve since brought in Kyle Davies, who we’re currently in negotiations to bring on.
Can I get an XXL sized jersey?
Unfortunately, Umbro does not make jerseys any larger than XL. It’s out of our control at this moment in time.
Will there ever be a Women’s team in the W-League?
Personally, I’d love to see an Orlando City W-League side. It’s too early to say if or when that would happen, but I believe it’s a great idea and would only add to our fully-developed club pyramid.
Just in the last six months, three of our staff members (myself included) have welcomed baby girls into their families. It’s definitely something on our minds.