Photo courtesy Louisville City FC
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville City FC became the latest USL club to announce it will head to the world-class facilities of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. as part of its preseason preparations for the 2017 USL season on Monday.
City will make the trip for the second consecutive year, with 2016’s trip having launched a season that finished with a second-place finish in the USL’s overall standings and trip to the Eastern Conference Final of the 2016 USL Cup Playoffs. The club’s board of directors moved to send players south for the preseason after inclement weather coincided with the start of training two years ago.
“Going to Florida for the preseason gives us a great opportunity to build base fitness,” said Louisville Head Coach James O’Connor. “I think that was the biggest thing when I look at our first year, in 2015. Eight inches of snow made it problematic.
“Going to Florida, we know what kind of weather we’re going to get. We know the quality of the pitch. We know the equipment we can use. All of that allows us to put a structure in place.”
Among the other clubs to have announced they will visit IMG Academy this preseason are two of Louisville’s major rivals, with FC Cincinnati and Saint Louis FC both set to visit. OKC Energy FC and Ottawa Fury FC have also announced planned trips to the facility next month.
Louisville will leave for IMG on Feb. 12 and return Feb. 25 to begin local training for the 2017 season, which opens the weekend of March 24-26. O’Connor believes the facilities and environment at IMG will provide for fitness training will be an ideal platform for the club’s season ahead.
“If you look at our injury prevention record, the last two years have been really good,” O’Connor said. “Part of the credit goes to the base fitness work we do. It’s high-intensity work with double sessions that first week every day. It needs to be done. It gives us insight into a few other things as well, because we begin to see aspects of players’ character. It all plays a part in what we’re trying to do.”
With a number of new faces in camp joining the club’s returning players, the trip will also foster the camaraderie that has helped Louisville quickly become one of the top teams in the USL.
“People go on about team spirit and bonding,” O’Connor said. “One of the great ways to bond is when you’re working your butt off with your teammate. You earn a healthy respect for each other, because you went through such a difficult period.”