Clear, blue skies again greeted the Colorado Rapids for the second day of training back under the shadows of Dick's Sporting Goods Park, though the session was switched from the grass pitches to turf fields due to the overnight snow acros the region.
After a gentle jog to warm-up, the players worked on close control in pairs, before splitting into three groups to work in confined areas on their touch. Attacking and defensive players then went their separate ways. Pablo Mastroeni worked with the defenders on tracking, reacting and covering, while Steve Cooke oversaw an exercise in the final third, with shooting and then volleying on goal.
The players then all came together for a familiar exercise, which works with three small goals positioned along the halfway line at one end and a full-size goal at the other. Positional sense, possession and support were key areas worked on here.
Wednesday's session was a little longer, pushing two hours, and finished with small-sided games and the 'drama' of a penalty shoot-out (below), before a warm-down and back inside.
After round-robin games, involving three teams, nothing could separate the sides, and so a sudden-death penalty shoot-out was required. The Blue team were the first to miss, leaving Dillon Serna to step up and convert for Orange. Birthday boy Chris Klute was next up, for the Yellows. The Rapids left-back, who favors his right boot, took the pk with his strongest foot, only to drag his effort wide of the left-hand post.
Goalkeeper Joe Nasco was all smiles at practice, though understandbly a little anxious, as his wife Amber is due to give birth to their first child any day. This was his last training session for a while. He departs Denver this evening for Atlanta, and what we hope is the safe and healthy arrival of his baby daughter. Wishing the Nasco family all the very best at this special time.
Dillon Powers, Shane O'Neill, Drew Moor and Pablo Mastroeni were all paraded before the TV cameras after practice, as both 7News and CBS came out to Dick's Sporting Goods Park. CBS sports anchor, Vic Lombardi, even caught up with Grant Van De Casteele, both Notre Dame alumni.
One-time Rapids midfielder, Terry Cooke, was stood on the sidelines this morning, watching the class of 2014 go through their paces. Cooke, who came through the Manchester United ranks alongside David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville and Nicky Butt, featured more than 100 times for the Rapids between 2005-09.