Charlotte (N.C.) - Kicking off the third season in Charlotte Independence history, the club began their training camp Monday morning. Trialists and all signed players, minus Goalkeeper Cody Mizell, began the day by going through a physical testing regiment and then finished the day with some small-sided games.
"It feels good to get the fitness test over," joked Independence Team Captain Bilal Duckett. "No matter how difficult a game is, it's still a game. You enjoy the play aspect of it, but the fitness bit is never fun."
Duckett marked one of the furthest distances ran in comparison to his teammates during the exam. Through the undesirable sprints, the core group of players kept a positive vibe carried over from their fifth place finish from a season ago.
“Coming out on a day like today just makes everybody excited,” said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. “I thought the level was above what I would've expected. It's a great thing. Everyone is enthusiastic and ready to roll.”
Over the course of next six weeks, the team will refine their abilities and narrow the roster in preparation for another season. Part of that process will be playing through the preseason schedule which features two MLS opponents.
“I think it's a great preseason game for us to play the [Columbus] Crew,” said Jeffries. “But a week in, we haven't done a lot of tactical work. Having a game like that helps with the mentality of guys coming in prepared and ready.”
Coach Jeffries’ message tempering expectations for the exhibition match does not come as a surprise to his team.
“We've got time,” said Duckett. “This Saturday is an opportunity to give ourselves a solid benchmark, but it’s a six week process.”