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Jacks work on conditioning, tactics during preseason matches
Opener is Feb. 12 vs. Tormenta FC
 
Published Monday, February 10, 2020 1:22 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | LEROY HARDEN
Valentin Sabella and his Charlotte Independence teammates are working on conditioning during preseason training. The first preseason match is Feb. 12 against Tormenta FC in Columbia, South Carolina.

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It is time to test the Charlotte Independence’s preseason progress.

Their first preseason match takes place on Feb. 12 versus Tormenta FC (USL League One) in Columbia, South Carolina at 5 p.m. They host league rival North Carolina FC Saturday at the Sportsplex at 2 p.m.

Preseason matches offer time for the Jacks to play around with the lineup.

“[We’ll] give guys chances at different places,” Independence coach Mike Jeffries said. “Moving around the group, I think it’s important that everyone feels like they can compete for spots on the roster, or in the first 11. There will be some fluctuation and flexibility over the first few games. Toward the end of the preseason, we’ll get more set in the lineup and in how long we play guys.”

Conditioning has been the primary focus over the first two weeks of training.

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“We made a little bit of progress in terms of our fitness and play,” Jeffries said. “We’re very much in preseason mode where things aren’t as sharp, or as fast as where we hope to go with everything.”

Jeffries said assessing a team strictly based on training has limitations due to players’ familiarity with each other. Preseason games serve as a barometer and he expects this week’s friendlies to raise the level of play, as coaches narrow the field of trialists from seven to potential permanent roster fixtures. 

“It’ll be nice to have a couple of games as measuring sticks, and also to test our fitness,” Jeffries said. “We’ve tried in the first couple of weeks to not only look at the trialists, but to also put the building blocks in place as far as how we want to attack as a group, and how we want to defend as a group. We haven’t really spent a lot of time in those areas—the tactical areas.”

Jeffries stressed the importance of implementing tactics over the next month leading up to Charlotte’s season opener at Sporting Kansas City II on March 8. Tactics come into play this week.

“It’ll be a little broken up with the two games,” he said.

The Jacks’ roster continues to fill out, with the arrival of players like midfielder Junior Etou, who flew into Charlotte on Feb. 5. His first training session took place the following day, which coincided with a tornado warning in the area. Everyone is safe and sound.

“His first training session was the tornado,” Jeffries said. “It’s pretty crazy. I’m not sure what he thinks of everything.”

Additional preseason fixtures include: NISA club Stumptown Athletic on Feb. 19 at 11 a.m. at the Sportsplex, League One side Greenville Triumph SC on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. and at Atlanta United 2 on Feb. 29 at 2 p.m.

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