Justin Hoyte

Notebook: IMG Recap, Weekly Preview

After two weeks of training at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., FC Cincinnati returned to Ohio for a brief stay back home before another trip on Thursday to Charleston, S.C..

The two-week Floridian stint was the first time Head Coach Alan Koch could implement his tactics and a playing style with the new roster. Before the trip, the club held four practices, which largely focused on learning names, playing tendencies and getting comfortable on the ball.

But once at IMG, the club had two-a-day training sessions, played other MLS clubs in friendlies and even ran on the beach.

“It was good,” center back Forrest Lasso said. “The weather was great and the pitches were immaculate, so we tried to take full advantage of it.”

In the three preseason games, the Orange and Blue went unbeaten, earning a win against the Colorado Rapids and draws against the Montreal Impact and D.C. United. Lasso said the opportunity to play in Florida helped the team not only build chemistry, but show its ability against MLS competition.

“It was high intensity, a lot of competition,” Lasso said of the IMG experience. “You could tell everyone was anxious to get back to it. Everybody held everyone accountable. You could tell each and every day that everyone was trying to get a little bit better, trying to encourage everyone to do better.”

After the final training session, Koch said he was also formulating the depth chart and potential lineups ahead of the inaugural MLS season, which begins March 2 at Seattle Sounders FC.

What comes next?

A lot.

Monday morning marks FC Cincinnati’s first practice at the Mercy Health Training Center in Milford. In the evening, the club will unveil its 2019 home jersey at an event inside Cincinnati Music Hall.

On Tuesday, FCC plays former United Soccer League-rival Indy Eleven in Indianapolis. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. and the game has free admission. Four former FCC players are on the Eleven roster.

FC Cincinnati will take its second extended preseason trip Thursday when the team flies to Charleston. There, the club will play the Chicago Fire, Charleston Battery (USL) and Columbus Crew SC.

“It’s been great,” defender Justin Hoyte said about the 2019 preseason. “It’s always difficult when a new group comes together and there’s a new bunch of players getting to know each other, but I feel we’ve all blended in well. We’ve all listened to the tactics and what the coaches say and what the manager says. I think we’re doing well as a team. We’re still growing as a team and we’re only going to get better and better.”

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