New England Soccer Today

Casa Grande Calling

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Following three days of agility drills and ballwork in Foxboro, the Revolution will fly to Casa Grande, Ariz. on Tuesday for a 10-day trip that’ll afford them the opportunity to amp up their preseason training regiment, as well as partake in a trio of full-sided scrimmages against MLS competition.

The club will spend much of their time between Tuesday and Feb. 6 at the veritable desert oasis known as Grande Sports World, which according to its website, “boasts eight professional-grade soccer fields (six lighted), an impressive 58,000-square-foot training and conditioning performance center with top quality locker rooms, state-of-the-art training equipment for elite athletes and two therapy pools for recovery and rehabilitation.”

After six days dedicated to the details, the Revolution will finish off the trip with three scrimmages in four days. The first will pit them against the San Jose Earthquakes on Feb. 3 at Kino Sports Complex in Tuscon at 1:30pm while the second scrimmage will feature FC Dallas on Feb. 4 at Grande Sports World at 12pm. The final scrum will have the locals meet the Vancouver Whitecaps on Feb. 6 at Kino Sports Complex at 6:30pm.

So what can we expect during the Revolution’s first trip to Arizona? Well, based on past history, we can make an educated guess that the following will unfold:

-New faces: Yes, the Revolution already have five trialists in camp, but coach Jay Heaps told the media on Saturday that he expects additional players to join the team as the preseason progresses. During their 2015 Casa Grande stay, the Revolution hosted Arizona United defender London Woodberry and J-League midfielder Yuza Tashiro, and both participated in scrimmages against Seattle and Salt Lake. Woodberry’s invitation proved to be fruitful, of course, as the Revolution subsequently signed him prior to the season.

-The arrival of Sambinha? The timeframe for clearance on International Transfer Certificates and P1 Visas can vary from federation to federation, but if the process proves to be smooth and seamless for Sporting CP loanee Sambinha, the 23-year-old Guinea Bissau center back could join the Revolution during the trip. Should the coaching staff determine that he’s fit to play in a scrimmage or two, it’ll bear watching to see who his partner at center back is.

-Phase 1: Heaps has often referred to the Casa Grande trip as “Phase One” of the preseason, a time in which the club focuses on fitness and footwork. Once the players start re-acclimating to both, the scrimmages are set. As we’ve seen in the past, the structure of those scrimmages can vary. Whether it’s a broken down into three, 30-minute segments, or two proper halves with entirely different lineups, the object of these games isn’t winning, per se, but to allow the players to get their feet under them.

-Casa Grande forecast: For those of you who are either making the trip to Casa Grande, or wish to live vicariously through the club during their stay, the 10-day outlook is sure to be the envy of many New Englanders. Between now and Feb. 6, temperatures are expected to remain in the high-60s for the duration of the week before a spell of cooler weather will see the mercury drop into the high-50s on Monday and Tuesday. And yes, clear skies are expected to be the rule.

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