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Local Soccer: United members teach FASA players
A HEADS UP WAY TO LEARN FOOTWORK
BY JIM SWING
Despite being in the midst of a heated MLS playoff race, players from D.C. United put on a clinic at the Fredericksburg Field House on Tuesday.
Donning pinnies that read “training in progress,” players from the Fredericksburg Area Soccer Association absorbed as much information as they could handle from the pros.
The organization hosts more than 125 teams and draws in more than 1,000 families from around the area.
“It’s a great opportunity for the kids,” Field House general manager Chris Tierney said.
John Palmer, FASA’s director of team sales and a four-year United season-ticket holder, coordinated with United to get a group of players to come put on drills and talk to kids at the Field House’s outdoor training facility, where teams practice four nights a week.
In past years, United held a summer camp in Fredericksburg, before it eventually moved away.
Kat Cheshire, D.C. United’s program coordinator for community relations, said the team was drawn to the event thanks to constant support from FASA.
“It’s cool how they come down here,” Palmer said. “We don’t even have to go up there.”
FASA U–16 and U–11 teams participated in possession and passing drills led by journeymen Michael Chabala and Marcelo Saragosa.
In one drill, members of the U–11 team dribbled around in a closed-off area while Chabala hoisted four fingers in the air.
After they stopped, he asked for those who saw how many fingers he was holding up to raise their hands.
Four out of the 12 players quickly raised their hands and answered.
“Keep your head up,” he instructed those who didn’t have their hands up. “Everybody wants to do the Messi stuff [referring to Argentine star Lionel Messi], but you’ve got to keep watching what you’re doing.”
Then they played knockout, a less serious exercise based on maintaining your soccer ball and being the last player in the circle to do so.
Saragosa, who has a 5-year-old son at home, engaged the players with a smile on his face.
The 10-year veteran also spent time doing clinics with kids while playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy, FC Dallas and Chivas USA.
“I love to work with them and give them some thoughts and help a little bit,” Saragosa said. “So for us it’s great.”
On the other half of the field, players from the U–16 team took turns firing shots on goal with defender Chris Korb and goalkeeper Joe Willis.
Players roared when a goal was scored or a skillful save was made.
Korb, in just his second season in the MLS, led the way, teaching technique on how to kick the ball.
Overall, it was a educational experience.
“We learned technical things and finishing and ball control,” said Kyle Hoffman, a defender for the U–11 team. “Stuff like that.”
After nearly an hour of drills and one-on-one schooling, the kids gathered and took seats on the field for a Q&A with the United players.
They were asked just about anything, from whether or not they play “FIFA,” a widely popular soccer video game, to what it takes to be successful together as a team.
“We learned speed of play and when to do different things,” said Jacob Palmer, an outside midfielder and striker for the U–16 team. “When to take someone on.”
Kids were given brand-new D.C. United T–shirts and walked through the line of players, who were giving out autographed cards of themselves.
They lingered on the field for minutes afterward, talking to the players, gathering advice and joking around before heading inside for dinner.
With just three games left in the regular season, the United currently sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, good enough to qualify for a playoff spot.
“It was a real privilege to have them come out,” Jacob Palmer said. “Seeing what they do kind of inspired me a little bit.”
Jim Swing: 540/374-5440