NASHVILLE – A cold Nashville morning led to training being moved indoors for Nashville Soccer Club. Here are a few notes from the morning’s training session and quotes from head coach Gary Smith and keeper Connor Sparrow.
Below freezing temperatures and a “feels like” temp that read even lower meant that Nashville SC training occurred indoors on Tuesday morning in the spacious Vanderbilt University indoor training facility. A regulation sized turf football field gave the team plenty of room to work through a variety of drills and a long run to finish the session. Next week can’t come soon enough as the team will head down to Florida to train at IMG Academy for a week.
“We will look forward to that given the way things have changed here,” said Smith. “To stay out of that really, bitterly cold weather and come inside is very helpful. It should be a good week next week.”
Ramping Up the Workload
Smith and his coaching staff are upping the workload for the players this week as three days will feature three sessions, with the other two days featuring two sessions. It’s an aggressive conditioning program, but Smith is confident the players will be able to deal with it given the offseason conditioning program the team did.
“It’s a lot for their bodies to deal with, but that is why we sent them off with offseason programs,” said Smith. “They needed to come back in good shape. The guys that have will be able to deal with that workload and push on and be in good physical form for that opening game. I know one or two have had injuries they were recovering from, and it will take them a bit longer.”
One player that Smith went on to mention was midfielder Lebo Moloto who is working back from a late season knee injury that sidelined Nashville’s No. 10 for the final six weeks of the 2018 . While the knee is now healthy, Smith mentioned that Moloto was progressing well in getting his fitness back.
For a portion of training, the team worked in groups through a finishing drill with assistant coach Brett Jacobs. After a series of one-touch passes, the finisher would fire a strike from about 20 yards away. While many players found the net throughout the session, one group that shined was the keepers who made numerous quick-reaction saves on well-placed shots. It was some of the first 1-on-1 work for the keepers in training this year.
“We have not had a bundle of competitive ‘games,’” said Smith. “Today was one of only a couple of sessions where we have had that sort of set up. Danny [Vitiello] and Connor [Sparrow] have settled in very nicely. They are great lads, and they have worked very well with Matt [Pickens].”
Sparrow Flies to Nashville
Keeper Connor Sparrow joined Nashville SC this offseason after a 2018 season that saw him make an appearance for Real Salt Lake in the U.S. Open Cup, and make a handful of lineups as a backup keeper. The appeal for a change of scenery to Nashville SC was the opportunity to make the next step and solidify himself as an MLS keeper. After practice he spoke the opportunity in Nashville and what he sees in his future.
“[I wanted to join] because of the future this club has and the opportunity to be a part of it,” said Sparrow. “Coming from being on an MLS roster, that’s obviously a goal of mine that I want to get back to. This is a great opportunity for that to show what I am capable of this year and hopefully make the jump.”
Starting this week, NashvilleSC.com will preview a position each week leading up to the beginning of the USL Championship regular season, starting with the keepers and working to the forwards. Stay tuned for the following previews:
This Week: Keepers
Feb. 4-8: Defenders
Feb. 11-15: Midfielders
Feb. 18-22: Wingers
Feb. 24-March 1: Forwards