As winter approaches on the Lower Mainland, the Vancouver Whitecaps men returned to the training pitch to begin their off-season program this week.
Nearly a month has past since the Whitecaps season ended following their early exit from the USL First Division playoffs, and with Bob Lilley moving on from his role as head coach, interim coach Todd Wawrousek has taken charge of the squad’s off-season activities.
With the Whitecaps still to play Major League Soccer side Los Angeles Galaxy in a friendly at BC Place before the end of the year, Wawrousek has had to remain flexible with his training plans. “Right now, training is three days a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:30 in the morning,” he told whitecapsfc.com. “We’re training in tandem with the Residency program, as it benefits both groups. It helps them with preparations for their Germany trip by doing some inter-squad stuff and mentorship things. In return, it gives us the opportunity to get the numbers to where we need them to be for us to have an effective training session.”
Unlike preparation for games during the season, the Whitecaps men focus on other areas during the winter months. “There’s more technical and conditioning work done in the off-season,” stated Wawrousek. “It’s about maintaining a good foundation of fitness, in that they’re not losing it and having to start from scratch. That’s why we made the conclusion to return to training about two-and-a-half weeks after the season ended.”
With an announcement on a date for the Galaxy game to come in the near future, Wawrousek outlined how things will shift in the lead-up to the big friendly. “Regardless of when the Galaxy game is, we will be bringing in the full compliment of our roster for a two-week period before the game and training every day at 10am at SFU. We’re also trying to schedule some loose dates for some friendly games to get us in the right mode for this marquee event.”
As for the preparations ahead of the 2008 season, Wawrousek revealed the options that the club are considering for the New Year. “I’ve tried to establish a structure for the long term by identifying where we’re going to be for preseason next spring, as we’ve had some discussions of potentially being away for a period of time,” he said. “We’ll probably have a mini-camp in January to look at a selection of talent, and that could involve anyone from anywhere. At the moment, we’re responding to different enquiries from different sources to find players that can compliment our roster, with the focus on young talent.”
Maintaining fitness in the off-season is not just limited to team training sessions, as Whitecaps players also embark on personal fitness programs in the winter time. Midfielder Dave Morris explains how he remains active. “I like to get involved in whatever I can,” said the Burnaby, BC, native. “I’ll train with local soccer teams and play some ball hockey. I like to do anything that keeps me active, especially if it’s a sport that is organized and where you can keep that competitive edge. Apart from the Whitecaps training, I’m involved in sports activities where I’m doing a lot of running around about three times-a-week. In terms of weight training, I also do that about three or four times a week as well.”
Morris admits training is sure to intensify in the lead-up to the Galaxy game. “You take training a little bit more seriously and you know you are doing it for a reason,” he said. “It’s not just to stay in shape, but you are gearing up for a game, so it’s definitely more motivating.”
Like many of his teammates, Morris also has a job away from his career as a professional soccer player. “I work full-time for Soccerwest during the off-season,” he revealed. “I deal in team and club sales as a sales representative, and I also work retail in the store as well.”
Don’t miss out on your chance to see David Beckham and the Galaxy first-hand when they face the Whitecaps at BC Place in November. For more information on tickets, please click here to view our Galaxy tickets page.