Training report: Getting it together

Training report: Getting it together

Notes from Tuesday’s training, plus a photo gallery…

Taylor Mueller, who took a skull to the eye on Saturday, worked out but was held out of contact on Tuesday.

Taylor Mueller, who took a skull to the eye on Saturday, worked out but was held out of contact on Tuesday.

HEALTH: Three players sat out training on Tuesday: Taylor Mueller, who was sporting a serious shiner around his left eye from a head-to-head collision in the final minutes of Saturday’s match; Maikel Chang, whose hamstring tightened up during Monday’s session, and Michael Kafari, who continues to have issues with an old knee injury.

The Battery is taking concussion precautions with Mueller, and while he’s already been cleared for non-contact exercise and could be available for duty against Richmond on Saturday, the team won’t rush him back. Mueller would have been in line to replace the suspended Quinton Griffin at right back this week if it weren’t for the injury.

Dane Kelly, who is recovering from a strained hamstring, scrimmaged live again, and ran extra sprints -- forward and backward -- after practice.

Dane Kelly, who is recovering from a strained hamstring, scrimmaged live again, and ran extra sprints — forward and backward — after practice.

Chang made his first pro start on Saturday after missing almost the entire 2013 season with hamstring problems. So his “tightness” is something the team will monitor carefully.

On the bright side, forwards Dane Kelly (hamstring) and Marlon Ramirez (ankle) both played in Tuesday’s extended controlled scrimmage. Kelly ran sprints after practice, while Ramirez and fellow Vancouver Whitecap Omar Salgado stayed late to do extra work with Assistant Coach Troy Lesesne.

UNSIGNED: The Battery’s two unsigned players — forward Austin Savage and defender Drew Ruggles — both participated in Tuesday’s practice. There’s been no change in their status.

The double-whammy of losing Griffin and Mueller has stretched the Battery’s depth along the back line, and Ruggles could offer the team a viable fill-in start at center back on Saturday. That would require signing him to a contract, however, and a decision on that probably won’t be made until Thursday. If Ruggles isn’t available to the Battery this weekend, it’s likely that teen-age defender Jackson Farmer would get his first professional start, most likely at right back.

Eric Shannon

Eric Shannon

AVAILABILITY: One of the team’s issues headed into the home-opener was whether all the players would have their international and domestic clearances worked out. We didn’t know which players that affected last week, but we did know that the uncertainty affected Anhaeuser’s choice for the team he prepared for the first game of the season. Saturday’s starters had started the two previous preseason matches

At this point there’s only one player that hasn’t been cleared — and instead of being an international, it turns out to be American goalkeeper Eric Shannon. Shannon spent last season playing in Guatemala’s top division, and apparently the officials down there just never responded to the paperwork the Battery sent down.

That’s why Shannon’s name appeared in the program last weekend even as Shannon spent the evening in the stands. The mysterious new face on the bench — a man we knew only as a one-game loan from Wilmington — turns out to have been MattĀ Glaeser, formerly a starter in Fort Lauderdale. Wilmington Coach Dave Irving sent him down as an emergency backup to Odisnel Cooper.

With Troy Lesesne in the mix, the Battery had three coaches on the field Tuesday.

With Troy Lesesne in the mix, the Battery had three coaches on the field Tuesday.

COACHING: The early portions of practice were directed by Lesesne, the Battery’s new full-time assistant coach. For readers unfamiliar with Lesesne’s coaching style, he is vocal, organized and precise, and the drills under his supervision proceeded energetically and efficiently. Tuesday’s tempo was noticeably up-beat, and the session rain well past the usual two hours.

With Lesesne directing much of the traffic and fellow assistant Dusty Hudock working with goalkeepers, Anhaeuser was able to put his attention on observing players during drills.

The three coaches divided the field during the rapid-fire intra-squad scrimmage, with Anhaeuser roaming and giving instruction.

Heviel Cordoves leaps over Odisnel Cooper to score in a finishing drill.

Heviel Cordoves leaps over Odisnel Cooper to score in a finishing drill.

VISION: While the Battery’s forwards made some nice finishes on Tuesday, the coaches stressed looking for the open man. It was kind of a universal theme.

That said, Vancouver loaners Omar Salgado and Mamadou Diouf both had some nice goals, as did Battery forward Heivel Cordoves. It’s just that the coaches weren’t letting them rest on those laurels.

It’s a general observation, but even during the Carolina Challenge Cup most of the roster struggled to put balls in the net in everything from finishing drills to Cup matches. On Tuesday, multiple players put the ball on frame during the scrimmage, and the shots flew into the net during drills at an encouraging clip.

CONCEPT: Anhaeuser said the Vancouver players are learning the way the Battery wants to play — particularly the forwards, who have defensive responsibilities when he switches to the high-pressure scheme that the team put to use in multiple preseason matches.

Then again, Anhaeuser said, he’s still figuring out how best to use his new players. That’s particularly true with Salgado, who flashed impressive playmaking skill during his second-half appearance against Orlando. He has the body of a center forward, but the inclinations of a wing player, and opinions on how best to utilize his talents have been divided since he entered MLS in 2011.

Colin Falvey

Colin Falvey

LINEUP: Richmond could face a quite-different lineup than the one that drew Orlando 1-1 at Blackbaud Stadium. Captain Colin Falvey returns from a one-game suspension, but Griffin will miss this week for a red card (no word yet from the league on whether his suspension will be for just one game). The most likely plan will be to keep John Wilson at left back and Shawn Ferguson at center back, with Farmer stepping in at right back.

Amadou Sanyang and Jarad van Schaik would be the obvious choices in central midfield.

Beyond that, Anhaeuser has his pick of forwards and wingers — a mix-and-match buffet of options that includes last week’s starters Zach Prince, Adam Mena, Cordoves and the dinged-up Chang, but also Salgado, Diouf, Kelly, Ramirez and attacking mid Andre Lewis, who made the first-week 18 but went unused.

There are effectively no additional defenders available on the current signed roster. Central midfielders Aminu Abdallah and Justin Portillo would be the first options to replace van Schaik at his usual spot if he were called upon to play fullback. Rookie Dante Marini looks like depth at the wing right now.

More about that later this week in the game preview.

TOP IMAGE: Colin Falvey marks Mamadou Diouf as Odisnel Cooper looks on during Tuesday’s training. Dan Conover photos.

 

6 Comments

  1. Just go ahead and make some decisions about Drew and Austin. We need Drew as a defender. He’s big and he’s fast. He’s good at the overlaps. Austin has done everything that’s been asked of him and is a local player and is not afraid to put pressure on the goalkeeper. Start with a core and fill in with the Vancouver players. They are good players but I for one would like a little continuity of players from year to year. I think that is how you’re going to get more of the community involved and coming out to the games.

  2. Also, Vancouver can pull their players back up to the first team at any moment. I would not count on all these players being with us all season long. And we’re not that deep in the back, plus, those are the players that tend to play the most minutes, get the most cards and miss a game here or there at some point.

    I do like how we’re a much more attack oriented team this year, it’s fun to watch. It would not surprise me if Auggie ends up using some sort of rotation with his attackers…..keep them fresh and let them all get some PT. It’s a long, hot summer and the games and travel do take their toll, especially if we a make a good run in the USOC.

  3. Answer to Jenny’s question $$$

  4. Money shouldn’t really be an issue, Tommy. We no longer have Cody Ellison, Jose Cuevas, Nicki Paterson, Mark Wiltse, and Kevin Klasila. We’ve got 8 loaned Vancouver players (who get paid by Vancouver). Those Vancouver players could probably be called back at any time during the season. We really do need to sign Drew and hopefully Austin as well, to contracts.

  5. I got another piece of the puzzle today. It hasn’t been announced by the club yet, but Vancouver prospects Adam Mena and Michael Kafari have been signed to professional contracts… by the Battery, not by Vancouver.

    So it really is true that we have eight players from Vancouver, but it is also true that we have only six of them on loan.

    BTW, the clubs have never revealed whether all or only part of the salary of a player on loan to the Battery will be paid by Whitecaps. I’ve asked. I think I’ll ask again.

  6. Right now the Battery are at 22 signed, rostered players. 16 of those players are signed by the Battery. Last year we had 22 rostered players and 19 of them were under contract to the club. So it’s a pretty safe bet that they’re saving a little bit of cheddar, at least, on player contracts.

    However, I’m not convinced that the Battery won’t sign anyone else. I think it gets dismissed, but Anhaeuser has said repeatedly that the primary issue for Drew or Austin is that they need to play. Signing them and benching them on a deep team isn’t going to help their development.

    But if Salgado plays well and goes back to Vancouver in June? Wouldn’t shock me to see the Battery go out and sign a player. Wouldn’t shock me to see them sign the right veteran to operate more as a backup on defense, either.