2014 Preseason: Bradenton, Day 6
RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY
For the second consecutive day, significant rainfall drenched players and staff during a session. Today’s session, however, did have a patch of sunshine and bright skies just as the warm-ups began before puddles and raincoats returned.
Across the country, the weather might be just a bit better as Crew defender Michael Parkhurst is with the United States Men’s National Team in California as the side prepares for Saturday’s friendly against Korea Republic.
Parkhurst told reporters in LA about his calculated decision to return to MLS and why he felt it was such an important one.
“I told Jurgen [Klinsmann] it was likely going to be come down to MLS or Denmark, and he was positive with both," said Parkhurst. "He told me to take my time and make sure it was right for me."
As the rain began to soak the water-logged field, the group broke into small teams for competitive games and drills.
Frankie Hejduk – who served as an honorary coach for one of the groups donning the green jerseys – posted a photo of the team that came away on top during the process.
The squad consisted of plenty of Ohio talent. Ohio native Josh Williams was joined by the only non-Ohio guy in the bunch, Justin Meram. Homegrown Players Wil Trapp (captain in this drill), Matt Lampson, Ben Speas, Ross Friedman, Chad Barson and Matt Walker completed the squad.
Friedman felt the hard work – and maybe a bump or bruise or two – was worth it in the end.
— Ross Friedman (@RFriedman4) January 31, 2014
WORKING HARD, ON AND OFF THE FIELD
The Black & Gold currently have 29 players under contract on top of the five other non-rostered players in camp. Of the 29 players, the Crew has four goalkeepers on the depth chart, all fighting for a chance to be Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter’s ‘keeper in net come Opening Match at D.C. United on March 8.
Brad Stuver is one of the four goalkeepers and while he was a mainstay in the Crew locker room in 2013 as an MLS Pool Goalkeeper, 2014 marks Stuver’s first preseason with the Crew.
“Preseason has started out great,” said Stuver. “Pat [Onstad]’s sessions have been excellent. The goalkeeping group is in a nice rhythm right now, we are all working extremely hard and the standard of performance has been great.”
Although the wind and the cold were gone today, the rain may have helped the ‘keepers in competitive drills, according to Stuver. That all depends, though, on the intensity of the precipitation.
“I like a little cooler day with a light rain. The game speeds up and the ball skips a little more but you just feel like you could play forever,” he added.
Off the field, Stuver has worked in the team hotel on course work to complete his college degree. Doing homework for two classes online for Cleveland State, Stuver is expected to graduate in May with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science.
“After training, you’re not always there mentally to do classwork, but it’s just one of those things you push through and get it done,” said Stuver. “My schoolwork is just as important as soccer right now because my degree will help me whenever soccer is over.”
That hard-working motivation certainly has applied on the field to the 22-year-old native of Mayfield, Ohio in his camp under Berhalter. The Crew boss brought Stuver on board after deciding to pick-up Stuver in the 2013 MLS Waiver Draft in November.
“I was very excited about the opportunity to join the Crew," he said. "It’s a great team with a great fan base and with the new owner and coaching staff there is nothing but good things to come.
“Now I just want to work hard and prove to the coaching staff that they made the right decision.”