Boys in Gold finish first full week of training at IMG Academy in Bradenton
BRADENTON, Fla. – What a difference one week makes.
Nashville SC’s 2020 roster has been together on the pitch for just over a week in training camp at IMG Academy in Florida, and the budding chemistry between this brand-new group of players is already on display. With the first preseason match just a few days away, the Boys in Gold will finally have a chance to put their progress to the test against outside competition.
Here are some of the latest news and notes from the training ground in the Sunshine State.
Nice To Meet You
Much of the first week of training camp has been spent getting to know one another and building relationships among the players on and off the pitch. That’s a fairly typical process for any club, but for a brand-new roster in a brand-new league, the challenge and opportunity that it presents is unique.
“It’s a whole different animal to start from scratch and start with a clean slate,” said defender Dan Lovitz. “You know there’s a lot of opportunity, but also a lot of things that need to be accelerated to get us in the right realm of familiarity with each other. We’ve taken to it really well.”
While building the chemistry necessary to compete in MLS is no small feat on an expansion team, it’s also a phenomenal opportunity for the players to create their own atmosphere and culture.
“It presents us with an opportunity that no other teams in the league other than Miami have this year, which is that we can start from scratch and create our own identity and shape our culture without any real incumbent pressure,” Lovitz said. “We can create whatever we want out of it. To have a group of guys put together and aims to have a great culture, I think we hit the nail on the head. Everyone’s working in the right direction and it’s been a pleasure to be a part of it so far.”
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There are lot of moving parts that go into creating a formidable offensive attack in soccer. Different players have different ways of distributing the ball, preferences on where to receive it for a shot and how to properly create the best scoring opportunities.
The process of putting the pieces of a fierce attacking group together starts in training camp, and it’s worked well so far.
“The chemistry is growing,” said forward Dominique Badji. “Of course it takes time to build chemistry with players that you’ve never played with. You have to understand what players’ tendencies are, what their strengths are. But, from the beginning of training camp to today, it’s grown tremendously. We’re starting to see what people bring to the table and get people to try and do that more often, so instead of having to think about it, it just becomes more natural.”
Badji, who has experience as both a central forward and wide attacking player, is starting to see the seeds of a strong group of attackers that can cause some trouble for opposing defenses.
Dominique Badji is his name, and scoring goals is his game.— Nashville SC (@NashvilleSC) January 4, 2020
Get to know @dbadji14, our forward that's been described as "a menace to play against." #BandTogetherNSC
Dominique's Greatest Hits: A thread ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/CHCNCTSy0G
“Our attack is very dynamic,” Badji said. “Even a lot of the midfielders we have are very dynamic. It’s nice to see for sure. It’s going to bring a spark to the game, a little bit of energy. There are talented players out there, and we’ve got a very good roster. We’re going to be very dynamic and dangerous going forward.”
Building At The Back
Another area where chemistry is a massive priority is on defense, where one small miscommunication could lead to an easy goal or an easy assist. While strength, conditioning and all the normal on-field work has been important, Lovitz and the rest of the Nashville SC defenders have placed a lot of importance on building the relationships that turn a backline into a back wall.
“We’ve emphasized those relationships quite a bit,” Lovitz said. “We’ve incorporated a lot of video, but more importantly we’ve logged a lot of minutes on the field working on things and putting sessions together to make sure that the guys that are playing next to each other are getting used to talking to each other and learning our tendencies. We have a lot of really outgoing and smart players that love to have dialogue on the field and during water breaks or whatever it may be. We’re trying to close the gap on the time we haven’t spent together, and that’s what preseason is for.”
Nashville SC continues to train in Florida ahead of its first-ever preseason match against Swedish side IF Elfsborg on Thursday, Jan. 30 at 2 p.m. CT. Stay tuned to NashvilleSC.com and all club social media channels for complete training camp and preseason coverage.