There are less than two and a half weeks until the MLS is Back tournament kicks off in Orlando. The Fire will leave for Florida in somewhere around ten days, and Head Coach Raphael Wicky has said when it comes to training, all the heavy lifting needs to be done before the team travels south.
The team begins its second week of full training Monday. Not everyone will get to make the trip to Orlando, so fringe players are busy fighting to prove they deserve a chance, and the top players are looking to show they deserve a spot in Wicky’s starting XI.
For Wicky, it’s about making a statement from the start.
“It’s always important that opening game,” Wicky told reporters in a recent media availability. “If you want to go far, that opening game is important. It’s not decisive because even if you win, it doesn’t mean you go through and if you lose, you’re not out, but everyone wants to go into a tournament and have a good start.
“But I also have to say it’s almost like two separate competitions because the group stage counts for the league. If we go through, which would be amazing and it’s what we want, those games don’t count for the league. Those games can get you money and a Champions League spot, but you don’t get the three points. So for us, we’re focused on the group stage now and we’ll take it game-by-game.”
The Fire will play New York City FC, and both expansion sides—Inter Miami and Nashville SC. Even out of the tougher, six-team Group A, that’s a schedule that could see the Fire advance to the knockout stage. But, Wicky wants more than that.
“We have the ambition to go down there and win the tournament,” Wicky said.
Let’s hope so.
Below are some of the best training photos of the week. Happy Father’s Day, everyone.