The 2019 USL Championship Title-Winners have been back on the field since their scrimmage against the RSL Academy last weekend, a contest that saw the Monarchs claim three goals while allowing none. Despite the result after the friendly scrimmage, Head Coach Jamison Olave was quick to point out that there was still work to do before the 2020 USL Championship season began.
Defending Together, Attacking Together
Being a seasoned MLS Defender, Olave has placed an emphasis on being a compact team that is able to defend together and win the ball quickly. The vision is evident during the preseason training as the team runs drills that focus on moving together as a single line. During the small side scrimmages that cap each training session, the Monarchs coaching staff have voiced their guidance to keep the team’s defensive shape.
However, it hasn’t been just a defensive focus for the team. Over the course of the week, the Monarchs have begun to shift gears into solidifying its attack and how the team plays in the final third of the pitch.
“The way we want to play is to defend in the middle territory now we are focused today and yesterday on how we are going to defend and how we are going to press in the final third,” Olave said after Thursday’s training session. “In the final third, it’s pressing and winning the balls and now we are adding the transition. Something that we did at the end of the season when we were playing 3-5-2, every time we won the ball we tried to look forward, trying to find Douglas, Maikel, Coffee and we scored a couple of goals that way.”
A New Face
The team welcomed its latest signing – Michael Wetungu – who began his training with the Monarchs this week, working with the team during possession and passing drills. While running the drills, Wetungu wasn’t shy to open up communication with his fellow teammates, providing valuable feedback on positioning and open spaces. His reaction timing on the ball was evident as well, getting into the right place at the right time throughout training.
“He’s good; He trained well today,” Olave noted. “What I saw today, what he reacted to was good and even with the skill that he has, I think it will help us.”
The Wasatch Winter Cup is quickly approaching for the Monarchs, as the first contest is set to be played against USL League One side Omaha Union on Sunday, February 16th. After spending the first couple weeks of preseason having a focus on defending and counter-pressing, Olave will be switching gears with the Monarchs ahead of the preseason friendly tournament.
“Now we want to focus more on attacking,” Olave explained. “We are going to have two or three weeks to keep working on that. We’re going to see at the tournament we are going to have in here, we’ll be defending well but it will be how we are going to attack when we win the ball. That’s what we are going to be focused on in the next week. Playing off in the back and playing in the middle third and how we will play in the final third.”