Sweat dripped from Caleb Stanko’s forehead and covered his jacket Tuesday afternoon as he walked off the training field.
Stanko, just like every other FC Cincinnati player, is trying to prepare for the swampy weather conditions that await next week in Orlando. (For comparison, it’s supposed to be 80 degrees with a dew point in the mid-50s in Cincinnati on Wednesday; it’s 94 degrees with a dew point in the mid-70s in Orlando.)
But weather is only part of the challenging conditions the Orange and Blue are trying to fight through.
It’s only been a week since head coach Jaap Stam arrived in Cincinnati and began leading coaching sessions. Since his arrival, players have been learning a new tactical system while preparing for a World Cup-style tournament after four months without a competitive match.
Stam himself said there’s a lot to do in a limited time, but he’s impressed with the positivity and progress the team’s achieved so far. His players have similar feelings.
“They’ve been very exciting, very disciplined and high level,” Stanko said of Stam’s training sessions. “He expects a lot out of his players and the standard is really high.”
Joseph-Claude Gyau agreed, saying the team is trying to make up as much ground as it can before the MLS is Back Tournament begins on July 8.
“The training sessions have been really good,” Gyau said. “Very structured, very clear. He lets us know exactly what he wants. I think we’ve executed well so far. Everybody’s learning and it’s been good.”
Before departing for Orlando on Monday, FCC will have had two full weeks of training with Stam at Mercy Health Training Center. Once in central Florida, they’ll focus on preparations for play in Group E.
While there isn’t much time with the new head coach between his arrival until the first match, the players are progressing with the Dutchman during every training.
“Everybody’s giving more than 100%,” captain Kendall Waston added. “You see all the boys coming in with the right mentality. That is what we need coming into this tournament.”