Tucson training - day 1 2016
Farhan Devji/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Intriguing battles emerge during chilly first training session in Tucson

TUCSON, ARIZONA – So much for the warm weather.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC held their first training session in Tucson on Monday morning – and it felt just like home. The temperature was around 5 degrees Celsius with the wind chill.

And boy, it was windy.

It also hailed, or snowed, depending on who you ask.

Either way, it was a productive first session, according to assistant coach Gordon Forrest.

“Obviously, we arrived yesterday so it was good to get the guys out on the field,” Forrest said. “In terms of preseason, we’re always looking at the physical outcomes but it was a little bit of tactical work in there as well. We’ve got to find that balance in every session leading up to our first game.”

As Forrest said, there was a lot of fitness work on Monday. But the ‘Caps also worked on some movements with the ball and concluded with an 11 v. 11 scrimmage.

One intriguing battle during that scrimmage came on the flank with WFC2 left winger Victor Blasco going head-to-head with WFC2 right back Kadin Chung. Early on in the scrimmage, Blasco got in behind and finished from inside the box. A little later on, Chung made a run the other way and split a pair of defenders – not unlike the play he made during his WFC2 debut last season.

It was certainly fun to watch.

“You need the sessions to be competitive and you’ve got two young boys going at each other,” Forrest said. “You don’t want to lose that battle. We want to see them fighting for everything even though it’s a preseason session. That competitive edge is so important to us.”

“We’re all focused on developing young players,” Forrest continued. “It’s great to have young players coming on these types of trips. You have players from the USL, the Residency and the first team, the experience they’ll gain just travelling, being in the hotel, and on the training field is so valuable in terms of their development.”

One young player who stood out during Monday’s scrimmage was midfielder Deybi Flores.

The 19-year-old Honduran looked lively in the middle of the park, winning tackles, making interceptions, and driving the play forward.

“We’re still working hard with him to keep working on that physical capacity,” Forrest said of Flores. “But he’s got a lot of potential and a lot of talent. When he does get to the levels we need physically, the rest of his game will come alive. We need him to get on the ball, we need him to drive forward, we need him to get in the box, and we need him to recover. So we’ll keep working hard with Deybi to get him right for the start of the season.”

AIRD’S FIRST SESSION

Recently acquired Canadian international Fraser Aird participated in his first session with the team on Monday, but it was a light one. Aird is coming off a busy weekend of travel from Scotland and the ‘Caps didn’t want to take any chances.

“It’s down to his travel schedule,” Forrest said. “Fraser has done a preseason, he’s been involved in training sessions, he’s been involved in games, but you know what it’s like when you’re traveling that distance. We’ve got to make sure that he doesn’t pick up a little injury straight away. We’ll phase him in to the right stage and he’ll be training soon.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAVID

Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted celebrated his 31st birthday on Monday. 

And as per tradition...

Later in the day, the 'Caps celebrated Ousted's birthday in a more traditional way.

The 'Caps are set to face Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday in their first preseason match of 2016. The match will be streamed live on whitecapsfc.com at 4 p.m. PT. 

Click here to find out how you can cheer on the ‘Caps, in person, at the 2016 Major League Soccer Preseason in Tucson. 

Be a part of the best sporting atmosphere in Vancouver! 2016 Whitecaps FC Season Tickets are on sale from $39/month all in. In addition to Season Tickets, Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including Half-Season Packs, 5-Packs, a Youth Soccer Half-Season Ticket, and single match tickets. For more information, visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.

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