A lot can be told about the mental disposition of a team in training. Are the guys tight and nervous, are they loose and relaxed? That can go a long way in effecting the way a team practices and eventually how they play as well.
Today we experienced the best of both worlds as the guys went through their final training session ahead of tomorrow night's all-important game against Chicago. As the guys, after their opening stretch, played a game of 7v7v7 that saw seven guys passing, two defending, five on edge and a team of seven waiting to be called to action.
Believe us, you would have to see it to believe it. All in all though, it kept everyone pretty loose, with plenty of joking and even led to one premature celebration which saw the blue team celebrate what they thought was a win.
Only for the game's referee, Dave Sarachan (pictured below giving direction to Edson and the always competitive Dema)... ... say that they had in fact not won, forcing the drill to go to extra time where the veteran team, led by Landon, David, Eddie and the likes pull out a win and a much more muted celebration.
The rumor that we heard after the session is that the blue team protested the final result and actually won the appeal, making them the day's winner but that can be neither confirmed or denied.
One thing that was confirmed after that exercise was that once it was time to get down to business, the guys were able to turn a switch and crank up the focus.
Bruce got the whole team together for a quick chat to go over some of the tactics and assignments for the game before going through the usual shadowplay and set piece drills that the club does on the day before a game with the first team going through the paces against the reserves.
After practice a few of the players stopped to talk with the media and look ahead to Friday's showdown. Here is what David and Eddie had to say.
Then, after a team meeting, Bruce and Landon, as well as Chicago head coach Denis Hamlett and forward Brian McBride, spoke to the media in a press conference in the TV Studio at The HDC, talking about the importance of this match and what it means to both teams. Be sure to head over to the video section of lagalaxy.com to watch today's press conference in its entirety and catch what all four of the guys had to say.
In other news from Carson today...
- Landon Donovan was called into the U.S. National Team for their final two World Cup qualifiers at Honduras next weekend and then against Costa Rica in Washington D.C. on the 14th. He will play on Friday night before joining up with the rest of the U.S. squad on Sunday.
- A.J. DeLagarza, who we told you all week was back in training, will be in the South Bay on Saturday along with Chris Birchall and Miss LA Galaxy will be at the newly-opened Chipotle in Hermosa Beach (at 1439 PCH) from 5:30 - 7 p.m., so be sure to stop by, say hello and have a burrito with the boys.
- Finally, we had a special guest return to training for the first time in a longtime today,with Russian legend Vladamir Leteminski dusting off his favorite goalkeeping onesie for a day of training alongside Donovan Ricketts and Josh Saunders.For those of you who don't know, that's actually Kevin Guppy modeling that "interesting" uniform though we're still not sure what he did to earn a day of training in it. And as funny as it is, we're not sure we want to see any of the guys squeezing into that anymore this season.