unless you are a MetroStar.
The Metros began their second full day of spring training under sunny skies in Bradenton, Fla., Tuesday knowing that while they may be in Vacationland, these 13 days are all business. The club has two practices scheduled every day until Feb. 18, in addition to having four games scattered throughout the two-week period.
"This is the hardest part of the preseason," said forward John Wolyniec, who netted 10 goals in 2004. "You work extremely hard during double-days (when the club holds two practices in the same day) and you can't help but get a little tired. All we do is eat, sleep and play."
Wolyniec and company know that this trip is a vital part of laying the foundation for a successful season, especially with the recent influx of new talent. Veteran defender Jeff Agoos and 2005 SuperDraft selections Tim Ward and Chris Corcoran are among the new faces in camp. Spring training is the time to grow comfortable with the first-year Metros and identify the various strengths the newcomers bring to the table.
"Obviously we have a lot of new guys coming in and we are trying to get more chemistry on the field, trying to find guys that you can play with and that you are comfortable playing with," said midfielder Mark Lisi, a veteran of 83 MLS games. "We are trying to get that because there are a lot of new faces, a lot of new players and different styles. The more we are playing together, the better we will be."
"This is when you have to build and establish continuity back in the team," added Wolyniec. "We have made some changes, so now is the time to get to know the new faces. The two weeks down here will really help that."
On an individual basis, these 13 days of training are used to build stamina back up to regular-season form and to sharpen the skills that may have lost a bit of luster in the offseason.
"Fitness is my main key, my main focus right now," said Lisi. "The soccer will come. I think right now just building a good base is probably the most important thing for myself and for a lot of us."
While MetroStars' head coach Bob Bradley agrees that regaining strength and stamina and building team chemistry are points of emphasis, he says that there are other goals he wants to achieve before these two weeks are complete. For the coaching staff, this is an opportunity to assemble, assess and reconfigure their squad.
"There are many things we are trying to accomplish because we are using this period of this preseason to look at some players," said Bradley, who is entering his third season at the helm for the Metros. "We are trying to get a feel for what they can do to help our team. At the same time, we are trying to build a foundation and make sure certain habits are established. We want to get guys playing again so they are getting fitter and getting sharper every day."
Getting fitter and getting sharper -- just another day in the Sunshine State for the MetroStars.