|Tactics and fitness on agenda for Charlotte Independence|
|Preseason focus sharpens as finale nears|
|Published Monday, February 17, 2020 5:17 pm|
|PHOTO | ASHLEY MAHONEY|
|The Charlotte Independence turn their focus to tactics and fitness for their final preseason tuneups, starting Feb. 19 against Stumptown Athletic at the Sportsplex at Matthews.|
The Charlotte Independence are halfway through preseason.
Coach Mike Jeffries emphasized being ready for their regular season USL Championship opener on March 8 at Sporting Kansas City II requires high intensity during the remaining preseason matches and training. The Independence host NISA club Stumptown Athletic Feb. 19 at 11 a.m. at the Sportsplex at Matthews, travel to USL League One side Greenville Triumph SC on Feb. 22 and finish preseason with a trip to Atlanta on Feb. 29.
“Keeping a high intensity and a high level in training, being specific in terms of our shape and how we want to structure the group, and the opportunities that we have with the few games that are left to be able to play and to put it to a test in a real environment,” Jeffries said. “We’ve focused pretty hard on building fitness, building sharpness on the ball, and I think as we go through the next few weeks, we have a chance to focus a little bit more on the tactics of what we want to do. We haven’t spent a lot of time on that to this point.”
Jeffries wanted to establish a starting point through conditioning before diving into the style of play.
“Preseason has gone smoothly. The biggest thing is that we try to develop fitness, keep guys healthy and sharp, and increase our speed of play on both sides of the ball,” Jeffries said.
Charlotte beat Tormenta FC 4-2 to kick off preseason, followed by a 1-1 draw against league rival North Carolina FC. They also added three players last week: midfielder Derek Gebhard, goalkeeper Austin Pack and outside back Duke Lacroix. Seven of Charlotte’s 15 signees are new to the organization.
“It’s a fair number of new faces, so integrating these guys is a process and it takes time,” Jeffries said. “There are moments that we were pretty sharp and pretty good on the ball, and we had some decent movement defensively. There were moments that we were able to keep shape, but we weren’t consistent throughout the game [against NCFC] at all. We’re past the starting point and we’re at a good place, pushing things along. Guys are getting fitter as we go—that’s a plus. The soccer end is getting better.”
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