In true Orlando City tradition, the team hit the road for its first two weeks of training camp ahead of the 2019 season.
The Lions began an intense fitness and training regime on Monday at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., that will see the team doing two-a-day trainings with recovery sessions and meal plans in a controlled, team environment for the next 14 days.
Twelve new faces acquired this offseason were introduced to the team.
“I think it was great this morning to see the intensity of the work,” Head Coach James O’Connor said. “I think it will take a little bit of time for the new players to feel comfortable and to feel at ease. It was great to see the encouragement that all of the players were giving each other because they worked pretty hard this morning and we’ll trek on again this afternoon and they’ll work hard again. It was a good first session.”
Whether it’s in a team meeting, in the gym or on the field, O’Connor plans to use every moment with the team to establish a new culture.
“We spend a lot of time speaking about the culture we want to create,” O’Connor said. “The players are showing instances and examples of what expected behaviors we are looking for, but we’ve come here to work. So when we’re working we expect high-intensity work from individuals and collectively supporting each other and making sure we finish preseason in a really strong position.”
With this being O’Connor’s first preseason at the helm of Orlando City, the players can sense the culture shift.
“I’m really excited,” second-year midfielder Chris Mueller said. “I’m really excited to see the culture that we are going to start building and how we are building as a team. A lot of new faces and it’s exciting to see a lot of good young players, a lot of good guys. Just excited to get going.”
With packed schedules and intense training sessions for the next two weeks, bringing the team together away from home was an important aspect of O’Connor’s plan.
One example of the camp’s intensity is the team’s early, 6:30 a.m. daily breakfast arrival.
“If we are doing that in Orlando then guys are getting up at different times and traveling different distances. This way we are controlling the environment,” said O’Connor. “I think it’s important that when you’re training as hard as the players are going to be that the food, the rest, recovery and the environment is controlled and that gives us an opportunity, by coming here, to control all of those aspects.”
The Lions will close camp next Saturday when they take on the New York Red Bulls in a closed-door scrimmage.
You can follow the team at camp via Orlando City’s social media accounts.