Riviera Maya - Clifton, New Jersey native Jonathan Borrajo played in the second half of Tuesday's 2-0 preseason win over FC Dallas. Prior to signing with the Red Bulls on Jan. 5, Borrajo spent time playing for Hamarkameratene of Norway, starting with the team in the Norway’s Second Division and helping his club earn promotion to the First Division.
We caught up with Jonathan after training Friday morning to see how things were going off the pitch so far and to find out where his new nickname comes from.
So you’re rooming with Victor Palsson. How’s that working out for you?
He calls me actually a pretty good roommate. He’s still trying to step his game up. He never remembers his room key which is a pain every now and then, but he’s all right.
How about getting to know some of the other guys, maybe the ones who have been here a bit longer?
The group is real good. Everyone gets along real well. They made it real easy to come in and just jell with them. We have a group of some clowns, some of the older guys. Teemu and Joel like to play a couple of pranks every now and then, but everyone’s real cool and everyone’s gotten along real well I think.
As a New Jersey guy on a team with a number of other local players, do you find yourself clicking with them a little bit more?
Nah. I mean, I can speak Spanish, so I’ve been speaking with a lot of the Spanish guys here. We’ve got some Jersey jokes that we like to crack on one another and the guys not from Jersey get on us, but the Jersey guys kinda stick together sometimes.
I hear you got yourself a new nickname…
Yeah. (Laughs) They like to call me Ron from The Jersey Shore. But I think I have nothing in common with that dude.
Riviera Maya - The Red Bulls spent Friday's training session working on tactics and making necessary improvements in an effort to better prepare for Saturday's 3pm CT (4 ET) kick off against Mexican side Merida.
A lot of emphasis remains centered on the team's defense, which helped post a clean sheet in New York's 2-0 win over FC Dallas earlier this week. Defensive drills, 11v11 and a number of attack-defense exercises comprised Friday's session on the pitch in Mexico.
Coach Hans Backe admitted to not being entirely familiar with Merida, however he is well aware of the style of play the Red Bulls may see Saturday afternoon.
"I think like most of the Mexican teams, from what I've seen and known from before, they are possession-minded," Backe said. "They will get hold of the ball and will have a lot of possession. Of course when you play in this heat, it's so important to have possession because if you lose it or lose possession too quick you are in trouble."
The match against Merida, which is closed to the public, marks the second of three scheduled for the Red Bulls during this preseason trip through Mexico. The third and final match will take place Tues., Feb. 14, in Guadalajara when the team takes on Tecos at 7pm CT (8pm ET). Similar to the match against FC Dallas, we will provide live in-game Tweets throughout. Neither of the remaining matches are available as a live stream.
Here are a few photos from Friday's session:
Riviera Maya - Red Bulls rookie defender Connor Lade played the second half in New York’s 2-0 win over FC Dallas Tuesday, helping New York earn a shutout in its first preseason match. The former St. John’s University and Red Bulls Academy product, who officially signed with the club on Dec. 5, has been looking to make his mark in the first few weeks of preseason, featuring mainly as a left back in training and against Dallas. We caught up with Lade after training Thursday:
Talk about how preseason camp has been going for you.
It’s been going really well. I’m really excited to be in here around a great group of guys and just focusing on improving every day. The coaching staff is really good at giving feedback to you, it’s a learning experience and I’m enjoying every minute of it.
Many first-year players coming from the college game notice the higher level of play in the pros. Is this something that you have seen?
Absolutely. You have to come in and transition right away and it’s a much higher level of quality. You just really have to work on adjusting as fast as you can and I feel like … I’m starting to get more comfortable and focusing on improving every day.
You played your last two years at St. John’s at centerback but the coaching staff has used you on the left. How has that adjustment been so far?
It’s been really good. I grew up playing that position all of my life and actually, was fortunate enough to play the first two years of college there before transitioning to centerback. It’s been a really good transition and I’m excited to get back on the wing because that’s my preferred spot to play.
Off the field, how has the chemistry been with the other guys?
It’s been great. [The team] got to zip line yesterday so that was a really cool experience. I actually had never done that before but I’ve heard good things about it. [I have been] hanging out with the guys by the beach and overall, we have a lot of jokers on the team so it’s a fun environment to be in.
How do you think you played against FC Dallas Tuesday?
I thought I had a good performance. It was hot but just getting back into it, it felt good to play a game again and put the hard work we’ve been putting in preseason camp actually into a match.
Riviera Maya - There's no denying the team was happy with the outcome of Tuesday's match against FC Dallas, but everyone in camp knows there's still work to do.
Thursday's session on the pitch in Mexico focused on tactical work and general improvements that can be made moving forward. The day centered on defensive work in 4v4 and 6v6 drills before opening up the entire pitch for a full 11v11.
Defender Jonathan Borrajo was a member of the second-half squad in the 2-0 win against Dallas and spoke first hand about the constant need for improvement.
"We're making sure that defensively we're hard to break down," he said. "Making sure we keep the ball in front of us, and offensively we're just going through some movements and getting ready for our next training match on Saturday."
The team has a fitness session this evening to close out the day but will return to the pitch for training once again Friday morning. We'll keep you up to speed on what's going on in camp as the Red Bulls prepare for Saturday's preseason match against Merida.
Here are a few photos from today's session:
Riviera Maya - The team was given the day off today follow Tuesday's preseason-opening 2-0 win over FC Dallas. In an effort to continue building the team's chemistry, the boys headed down the road to a local action park for a day filled with ATV rides, zip lines and a ton of other crazy outdoorsy activities. We embedded a few video guys to go along on the trip, so definitely keep an eye out for that. The pic on the right should give you a better idea of what's to come. Also, if you haven't seen it by now, Dax McCarty, Matt Kassel and Stephen Keel sat down on the beach here in Mexico to chat about Twitter, Joel Lindpere's affinity for tanning and the preseason. Guaranteed must-watch video from this trip.
- Pool goalkeeper Chris Konopka and Raymond Yeboah are no longer with the squad
- Midfielder Teemu Tainio is day to day with a minor calf injury.
Defender Wilman Conde joined the team on Sunday and has since been going through rigorous three-a-day workouts with the training staff here in Mexico (cue the Rocky theme song?). There's currently no timetable set for his preseason debut with the team, but the upcoming trip to Arizona may be used as a measuring stick to gauge his fitness level.
The squad returns to training Thursday morning but will get another taste of a match Saturday when they take on Mexican side Merida. The game will not be available as an online stream, however we will provide updates throughout the match on our Twitter page.
Riviera Maya - Nothing like a nice win to kick off the 2012 preseason.
The Red Bulls downed FC Dallas 2-0 Tuesday afternoon on the pitch in Cancun thanks to a goal from Kenny Cooper (33') and a penalty-kick tally from Corey Hertzog (89'). Goalkeepers Ryan Meara and Jeremy Vuolo combined for the clean sheet, while the defense also showed off some solid positioning and ball movement to limit Dallas' chances. (Full match recap available here)
The team returns to action later this week against Mexican league side Atlante. Similar to Tuesday's match, we'll provide Twitter updates throughout to keep you all up to speed on the Red Bulls' 2012 preseason.
With that said, here are a few photos from today's action:
Riviera Maya - Recently acquired defender Wilman Conde joined the Red Bulls in Mexico late Sunday evening. The Red Bulls obtained the right of first refusal for Conde from the Chicago Fire in exchange for allocation money in a January 29th deal.
Wilman was named 2009 MLS Best XI defender and recently spent time with Mexican First Division side, Atlas de Guadalajara of the First Division, where he made 13 appearances and scored two goals.
Riviera Maya - With news of Monday's scrimmage being postponed until Tuesday (12:30pm CT/1:30pm ET), the team opted to have a light training session on the pitch. Nothing too rigorous or pressing for the guys today as they'll look to preserve energy for the preseason match, but still a hard-fought one for some of the players who took part in the game portion of the day. Dane Richards showed his usual flashy speed, while Kenny Cooper is really starting to show his presence on the ball (and power moves toward the goal).
Markus Holgersson continues to show off his defensive skill set and both Ryan Meara and Jeremy Vuolo are keeping things interesting in goal. Each has played well during the training sessions here in Mexico. With Coach Hans Backe stating he wants his players to get 45 minutes each against FC Dallas, there's a good chance both guys will earn some time on the pitch Tuesday afternoon.
Just a reminder: Tuesday's game will NOT be available via online streaming. However, we will provide updates throughout the match via our Twitter account.
And now, a few photos from today's short session:
Riviera Maya - Today's preseason match against FC Dallas has been postponed due to field conditions. It is tentatively scheduled for 3pm CT (4pm ET) tomorrow. We'll keep you posted on the status of the match right here on the blog and on Twitter.
In place of the match, the team will hold a training session today on the pitch in Mexico. More to come this evening as well.
Riviera Maya - Today's preseason match against FC Dallas, initially slated for a 5 pm CT kick-off, has been moved up to 3pm local time (4 ET). The event will not be viewable as a live stream, however we will provide live Twitter updates throughout the match.