For this LouCity squad under head coach James O’Connor, preseason is a daunting, grueling, two-week stretch that once again reared its ugly head as the team arrived at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL last Sunday evening. For defenders Sean Totsch and Paco Craig, though, the importance of these two weeks and everything they encompass is what helps prep them for another run in 2018.
“Every day, we give everything we have here,” said Totsch. “You wake up in the morning and you’re sore – it may be difficult to get out of bed – but you know that you’re going to get out here and play with these guys and you’re able to get through it with them.”
Last year, LouCity reached the top of the USL after winning the Eastern Conference regular season and stretching an unbeaten run to seven games in pursuit of the 2017 USL Cup. Totsch and Craig credit last year’s hard work – including that difficult preseason – for helping them reach their goals as a team.
“From day one, the type of mentality that we were told we needed to have was always about the team,” said Craig. “Day in and day out, the emphasis was on how solid we could be and were as a unit – not just the back five or the back three – but for the whole team. It was about all 11 of us on the field, all 18 of us in the squad, and all 20 of us throughout the season.”
That said, ask either of them and they’ll be quick to say that last year is an afterthought. Their work has only just begun ahead of the longest season in USL history, but the pair are primed to put in a shift.
“I’m just trying to do my job the best I can every day. That’s the mentality. I need to take care of what the team needs and what I need every day and everything else falls in line,” said Totsch.
Along the same lines, Craig emphasizes that, once again, no player is above the rest and that they will work together – and only together – to fight for what’s to come.
“I really only focus on the collective goal because as long as we stitch and stay focused on the process as a team, then all the individual stuff will come afterwards as a result,” said the Londoner. “The personal stuff is just a byproduct of what we focus on, which is the success of the team.”
Now through one full week at the impeccable performance training center in Florida, the squad is looking to continue building on that foundation – the one based on the expectations set by O’Connor from the first minute they arrive.
“All of this work is about building the platform for us to step another step higher until we’re as high as we go,” said Craig.
LouCity begins the 2018 season on Saturday, March 17, with kickoff against Nashville SC slated for 3:00 P.M.