The Philadelphia Union opened their new training center up to local media yesterday, and I got the opportunity to train like a pro. While I’ve never doubted that I was not cut out for the rigors of being a professional athlete, sometimes it’s good to be humbled and reminded that this stuff is hard. I have the utmost respect for all of the men and women that do this for a living - and even more respect for guys like Brian Carroll who at a few years my junior is still doing this day in and day out.
After signing in and filling out a medical waiver, I went into the locker room where everyone in attendance was given a kit, a set of cleats, and training shoes since they (rightly) guessed I had none of these save for a pair of old boots. After changing, a few of us did some kick about in the locker before it was time to head up to the film room.
Once in the film room, Union manager Jim Curtin broke down the Union’s philosophy and broke down film of what Orlando City does and what their strengths are (hint: Kaka and Cyle Larin are pretty good). From there it was back to the first floor and the training room. The training room is wide open and ringed with weights and equipment, but the most impressive feature in my mind was the giant standings board up on the interior wall - a constant reminder of what the club has achieved and still must work to achieve.
After a brief set of warmup exercises, we went out onto the field for some passing drills and eventually a scrimmage. It may not have been the attractive soccer that most of us would want to see, but it was fun and competitive. The team I was on wound up winning the scrimmages (although it was mostly not of my doing). We then went back into the training facility for some weight training before finishing our day with lunch in a dining room in the facility.
This facility is exactly what the Philadelphia Union have needed. I remember attending a practice at Chester Park a few years back, and it’s amazing to think of how far the club has come - from practicing in a public park to a state of the art training facility and practice fields all within about 300 yards of the stadium. The message this sends to the club should not be understated - your work here during the week will get you over there on Saturday.