'Caps men's team put to the test

Vancouver Whitecaps FC men's team kicked off their 2008 season training camp with a Player Assessment and Orientation Day over the weekend. Teitur Thordarson's squad were divided into four groups for the Saturday morning sessions at Simon Fraser University. The players were assessed in both functional and orthopedic sessions, as well as given advice on diet and nutrition by top professionals from SportMedBC. The squad were also put through a rigourous fitness session on the Whitecaps Training Centre turf at SFU, as players were measured on their strength and conditioning before embarking on their preseason work over the next few weeks. With less than a month before the season opener at home to Canadian rivals Montreal Impact, both staff and players gave their thoughts below on the team's first day of training camp. Video Distance Test The Beep Test Head coach Teitur Thordarson "I think today has been very good. All of this testing is about controlling the fitness of the players, and it's also very good for our work in the future. With some of the tests that we are doing today, we can relate them to earlier tests we did in January, like the 'beep test'. When we do these tests the next time, we can see how their development has been." Assistant coach Todd Wawrousek "What we are providing to the team is a more accurate barometer of their fitness with the testing. These tests will be conducted on a regular basis, so we will have a measurement to determine where their improvement needs to occur. We've already implemented new things here. We have a recovery table after every training session and pre-hydration when it's required in certain quantities prior to training. We've also looked at diet when we are on the road, as a lot of the meals will be planned, as opposed to leaving the players at their own discretion as to what they are going to consume. Those things will be done from now until the conclusion of the season. By and large, it has been quite positive." Goalkeeper Srdjan Djekanovic "Today's assessment is very important. It's definitely the step in the right direction from the club's point of view, and it's important for us players to know that what we are doing is the right thing. The fitness test, meanwhile, shows us what we need to work on. This is the first day of preseason training, so it's important for me to set the bar and monitor my progress. It's definitely impressive to see the Whitecaps take the initiative to do these things. When I was in Serbia, guys would have a smoke after practice, and in preseason, we would go up into the mountains to do some fitness work. However, we did not have the type of monitoring, as we have here." Left fullback Willis Forko "I think from a coaching standpoint, today helps you see what guys have been doing in the off-season, and you can assess where the guys are and need to be at a certain point. Obviously, we are getting paid to play, so you have to do what is demanded of you on your own." Strength & Conditioning coach Steve Ramsbottom "Today, we were trying to get a really good base of where the players' strength and conditioning levels are right now in preseason. I've been with the guys for about a month now, and have done tests to see their aerobic capacity. We've also looked at their muscular power and their muscular endurance, as well as their foot speed and agility. We are looking at a lot of specific movements in the players, and in conjunction with the doctors and physiotherapists, we have been also looking at the physical function of the players' bodies. We then put all that information together in order to make sure we are building better athletes. Teitur and Todd believe in what a good strength and conditioning program can do for the club, and we will be more encompassing with a lot of the recovery training this season. I think things are going in the right direction, and there has been some dramatic improvement in some of the players."