After a well-earned day off, the Red Bulls returned to the training pitch at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL Monday morning. The first session was definitely a night and day comparison to the first of the entire trip. Whereas last week the players were focused on conditioning and getting their legs under them, the new week’s session started off with more ball movement, tactical work, and passing. By the end of the morning session, Thierry Henry was sending balls into the box for Kenny Cooper, and Tim Cahill was heading crosses into the netting. All in all, it was a high-tempo outing for the boys as they kicked off their second week of preseason training.
In the afternoon session, the team engaged in its first 11v11, one that was comprised of two 20-minute halves.
Since the team landed in Sarasota last Tuesday, the anticipation was growing by the day for full end-to-end action. Similar to the mantra "you have to walk before you run," the first few sessions were small steps leading up to Monday's sprint. So it goes without saying (but we'll say it anyway) - the squad was stoked to kick off in a match-like scenario.
One of the finer highlights of the second session came after cool downs, when Red Bulls newcomer and free-kick specialist Juninho put on a dead-ball clinic to the amazement of his teammates. After firing close to two dozen shots on goal, and missing the mark on just three, he called his final one; a gravity-defying knuckler to the upper 90 of the goal. His accuracy and prediction was spot on, and the rest of the team clapped in respect for his shooting display. Dax McCarty had this to say after the session:
Looked like he wasn't trying, but Juninho gave the team a little FK lesson after training today. Safe bet no1 else is touching FKs this yr!— Dax McCarty (@DaxMcCarty11) January 28, 2013