The first pure fitness session on the field since camp began five days ago was a doozy. Designed by fitness coach Masa Sakihana, the intense 36-minute program was built to increase their maximum fitness capacity and improve the players' ability to change direction at speed.
There were two different stations, each running a duration of one minute. Players cycled through each station six times, and got one minute of rest between every exercise. In total, there was 12 minutes of work and 24 minutes of rest. Sound easy? Hardly.
The first station was the '300-yard shuttle'. Cones were placed 25 yards from the sideline, and players had to shuttle back and forth six times in a minute. Why the shuttle and not just 300 yards straight running?
"We wanted the players to work on deceleration, change of direction, and acceleration, which are important parts of their movements during the game," said Sakihana.
The second station was the six-cone drill, which had a series of 3-4 yard lateral shuffles and 5-6 yard diagonal sprints that concluded with either a volley or a one-touch pass back to a coach. Once again, the movements and distances mimicked actions that players routinely repeat in matches.
Overall, the team did very well in getting through the exercises. Zach Loyd in particular showed remarkable stamina, earning the nickname conejo (rabbit) from Nick Rimando. The players were also impressed with the fitness of goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who was consistently at the front of his group during the shuttle run.
One thing was certain - they were all happy to have the afternoon off ...