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Camp Day 3: Cato And Banton Play, Ianni Talks Possession

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Patrick Ianni describes the new possession emphasis of the back third as similar to late 2010 when Sturgis played beside Alonso.
Patrick Ianni describes the new possession emphasis of the back third as similar to late 2010 when Sturgis played beside Alonso.

Cold air, but sunny skies down at Starfire for the last split session training on the schedule. Session One, the younger players, saw 10v10 action. They needed a warm body to fill out the full 20, instead assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson (now on twitter) played as a left back in their three back set. The two right backs were David Estrada, who continues to look quite strong with the ball, and Amadou Sanyang. These are very fluid and ad hoc formations so a rush to judgement is unnecessary. Remember, Ezra played. It was also the first time that Cordell Cato and Jason Banton took the field in a scrimmage.

Sigi Schmid talked about both. First regarding Cato;

I thought for the little bit that he played you could see his quickness. He's got some speed. He's a lot stronger than you'd think for a guy his size. He'll be good.

Schmid said that the team wanted to find a way to sign him midseason but juggling the roster then would have been tough. Like other's who describe Banton's game the first mention is Steve Zakuani;

He looks a lot like Steve Zakuani doesn't he? We already named him Backuani. It's actually funny because they have a lot of common friends. It was good. Offensively you could see some of things he could do. He likes to go at people one-on-one, similar in terms, he likes to play inside off his right foot. That offensive explosion is something that we noticed at the Combine and we wanted to see it here. You've got to play both sides of the field and both sides of the ball and he knows that's something we want to see in the 11 v 11 tomorrow.

Session two featured two smaller games. The first with no keepers where Zakuani and Chris Henderson played as neutrals. The second was a short field with keepers that had players outside the field of play able to cross only. Henderson and Zakuani were on teams for that. On smaller fields the defenders get forward a bit more and both Zach Scott and Leo Gonzalez had near misses. Lamar Neagle had a couple great crosses.

Cato met the media for the first time. The main topic was how much colder it is here than in Trinidad. He bought his first ever heavy coat and is getting gloves today. He was asked where he likes to play.

My strength is my speed and skill on the ball. I play in spaces to get behind the defense to score goals.

To get some perspective on the new possession style from the defensive third I talked to Patrick Ianni and asked him about how Michael Gspurnning differs from Kasey Keller in distribution.

I think this year we're going to play a little more possession, so we may use Mike, or whoever is back there, I think the keepers that are in they all have pretty good feet so that whoever is out there during the year we'll definitely try to use them. Sigi's been saying that from the beginning that we're going to play a little more possession and that way we can use them and keep possession. But I think Kasey did that well for us last year, but there will be a little more emphasis on that this year.

He elaborated as I asked about his experience as a passer and midfielder.

I think there was a period at the end of 2010 watching games we played a little more possession when Sturgis was in there with Ozzie. Sturgis is very possession oriented. I really enjoyed that, the second half of the season in 2010, because I thought we wore teams down. In the second half things really opened up because their legs were so tired and they couldn't cover those spaces. Then openings started to show up and we could play through the gaps so that will be good.

Ianni compared it to a way that Barcelona plays and how in the second half a team isn't as mentally or physically sharp. This will enable longer low passes out of the back that skip the center mids and get straight to Fredy Montero and the wing players in a manner that is not a 50/50 aerial duel.