Sunday, February 1, 2009

Training Camp: A First Look at the Rookies


Watching the first day of on-field action for the rookies, I was reminded of how hard it is to evaluate someone in that setting. The drills that they do may reveal something to the coaches, but I sat there praying for the unlikely happening of a full-length scrimmage.

None of the rookies (nor the vets for that matter) did anything that was awe inspiring, but I did collect some initial impressions. These are likely to change as they get more comfortable with their environment, and as I see more of them. Here are my thoughts for now:

Jean Alexandre

I'm trying to be reserved about this player, but he is impressive physically. Described by Lagerway as a mini-Olave, when I see him I think Bakary Soumare (an RSL staffer concurred).

Very strong going for the ball. In a drill, he challenged (aka dominated) Coach Cassar on a 50-50 ball. Of the rookies, he appears to be the most take charge player. I still have visions of him in a d-mid role with Olave/Borchers waiting behind him to mop up.

Raphael Cox

This kid is a left-sided player and is quite short at 5'6". However, I saw some brief glimpses of amazing speed from him. He came from the back of the pack in a field-length sprint to outrace everyone to the other end (Findley included).

I think this guy has a real chance to make the team. His pace, and the fact that he is left-sided make him a valuable commodity. Also, he appears to be intelligent and well-spoken, which may help his chances.

David Hertel

Looked a little confused during a couple of drills, but that's typical of rookies early in camp (see my criticism of Alex Nimo last season). For me this is the hardest one to judge, as many of the drills don't highlight what a defender can do.

Decent size for an outside back, not incredibly strong, somewhat average looking. Buzz Carrick loves this player, but I haven't yet had the chance to see that.

Futhi Bhembe

An awkward looking player on the pitch, and would probably be the skinniest striker in the league. Showed some signs of a pretty good touch. I have my doubts about him, just because of his lack of size and strength. Hard to tell until you get a chance to see him on the field and see how well he works in space.

Very likeable based on a couple of brief contacts that I have had with him.