(Quick training report from Blackbaud Stadium this morning, with a more in-depth article tomorrow when I advance the Houston Reserves (Sunday at 11 a.m.) match, followed by the preview of the Battery’s match-up against the Portland Timbers U-23s at JELD-WEN Field on Tuesday…dc)
The Charleston Battery wrapped up a short training week with their usual Young-vs-Old scrimmage Friday, but the best news of the day wasn’t how they played but who played: Amadou Sanyang, last seen exiting the field at Charlotte after an aerial collision at midfield.
Given his concussion on March 30th, concerns about Sanyang’s health make the outcome of matches look trite by comparison, but the knock he took in Charlotte apparently did not result in another concussion. He returned to training on Thursday and accounted for a couple of goals during today’s spirited 9-v-9 intrasquad.
Barring a last-minute setback, he’s expected to be on the plane and available for selection when the Battery head west at zero-dark-thirty tomorrow. That’s the best news of the week, and I don’t mean because Sanyang could play.
Before I get to the bad news, I’ll stick with the good for a bit…
Remember Ben Fisk‘s mystery ailment? The one that turned out to be a slight MCL tear that he brought with him from Vancouver? Remember last week when we got the on-the-record confirmation that the knee had undergone surgery and doctors were calling for him to be out two to four weeks?
Well, judging by nothing more than what I saw today, Fisk appears to be well on his way to recovery. He ran laps. He sprinted. He looked upbeat, energetic and spry. I watched him to see if I could tell whether he was favoring one knee over the other (I’d seen it wrapped in ice last week, but I honestly can’t recall which knee it was), and I couldn’t spot any hitch in his movement. So congrats, Ben. And great job, orthopedic surgeon.
Jose Cuevas has appeared in the last two matches, but he hasn’t been himself yet. He’s still not the guy who looked ready to tear up MLS in March (Cuevas scored nine goals in the Battery’s 12-game preseason before pulling his hamstring in the first half at Richmond on April 13), but working on a short field this morning he showed flashes of the sharpness he’d been missing. Cuevas finished at least one chance I got to see, and looked more confident than the average player I saw at Charlotte. He said as much after practice, and said he was coming back stronger day by day.
And the Battery certainly could use him, because…
… Quinton Griffith, Charleston’s high-speed-bullet-train of an outside midfielder, was still on the sidelines Friday, and won’t be traveling with the team tomorrow. Griffith indicated on Tuesday that he’d picked up some kind of groin injury.
Not to put too much on one guy, because the Battery have played well enough to win without him, but Griffith’s ability to run at defenders with world-class pace simply changes games.
Also out: midfielder Maikel Chang. He’s re-injured the same hamstring that’s given him fits since February, and though he ran a few controlled sprints under trainer Bobby Weisenberger‘s supervision on Friday, he was clearly favoring his hurt leg. Coach Mike Anhaeuser had previously said that the club would be taking Chang’s rehab more cautiously, and had only in the last couple of weeks begun trying to work him into the rotation again. Now the team is starting over on its cautious approach, and might sit him for some weeks before prepping him for a return to the lineup.
Part of the issue with Chang, Anhaeuser said, is that he is still only beginning to learn English, and wants to get into games. So what the eager young man says about his fitness and the strength of his damaged muscle isn’t necessarily reliable or complete.
Bryce Alderson, who suffered a thigh bruise in his first start on the road at Dayton, continues his rehab. He jogged around the field Friday.
So, a few short notes from today’s scrimmage:
Emmanuel Adjetey might get more notice for being explosive and left-footed, but he had a couple of first touches and clever ideas today that looked like something out of an old Roadrunner cartoon. He looks like he’s going one place and then — meep-meep! — he’s over there. Not sure how it got there. Kid needs his own personal video replay.
Kevin Klasila has the nickname “Godzilla.” Most of the time I think, well, it’s because it sounds like Klasila.
Not today. Godzilla Klasila was in full bad-ass mode this morning, blistering his “Old” teammates with instructions and pointed corrections, smashing balls clear, diving and saving and shouting and just generally looking like his motor was running full throttle.
— Nicki Paterson (@nickipaterson8) May 17, 2013
On the road
The team meets at the airport at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow for a flight with a scheduled 5:30 a.m. departure. Between Sunday morning and Tuesday night they’ll face one of the strongest MLS reserve sides in this year’s USL PRO schedule and take on a talented Portland Timbers U-23 side intent on knocking them out of the U.S. Open Cup before the Battery even get to host a match.
It’s a tough, short trip with three flights and a lot of time in airports.
But Anhaeuser seemed in good spirits, and with Dane Kelly, Sanyang and Cuevas leading the Young team, the squad seemed in loose and relaxed.
Which is good, because they’re about to be tested.
TOP IMAGE: The Battery scrimmage Old-v-Young Friday in their final training session before an early Saturday flight to Houston. Dan Conover images.