Courtesy of Christian Manisck

Tales of an aspiring professional, Vol 3

Christian Manisck, a member of the Dynamo Academy's U-16 team, is training with Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense for a month before returning to Houston. His experience could lead to future collaborations between the clubs, and Manisck will be blogging at HoustonDynamo.com throughout.

Day 8

Today was the first gameday I had with the team, but it was just a friendly. 

In the morning we had a tactical training session that revolved around pressure, long balls, and counter attack. The main drill we had was in half of the field, separated in half, with two teams of 10. When one team had the ball, six players from the other team would pressure. The goal was 10 passes, and once again we only had two touches and had to keep the ball on the ground. But the difference was if the pressuring team won the ball, they could quickly switch it and complete 10 passes in a counter-attack type of play. The second drill was very similar but with full size goals and less people.

Unfortunately, during this practice I started feeling an injury I picked up a couple weeks before coming to train with CAP and had to sit out the friendly and a few days of practice. However, this is something that many players go through. We saw many players injured out of the World Cup, and many not performing at their highest level because of injuries. It is an unfortunate aspect of professional soccer. It is in fact very frustrating to not be able to use the tools of your trade due to injury. However, it's best not to mope about it, or play through it, but instead get treatment as quickly as possibly, keep a positive mindset, and get back to full soccer form.

The friendly was an easy one for us. We played against a local "soccer school," as they call it here in Brazil and won by a wide margin. We played a 4-3-3, the same formation the Dynamo Academy last year and many other professional organizations play with and are quickly adopting. The formation was very well applied, since the wide forwards always kept their width and made it very hard for the other team to mark, and at the same time, if they came inside, the flanks were well used by midfielders taking up the space. A couple goals came from some well executed, but simple, set plays.

Day 9

I woke up and went to the rehab center for a checkup. The swelling on my pulled groin had gone down considerably, but I was still told that the best treatment was rest from the physical activities that day. Luckily I had not done anything too serious to my leg, so ice, anti-inflammatory medicine, and rest would fix it in a few days.

In the afternoon I was able to join the group for a session in the gym, upper-body only of course, and then back to the room for rest since it's very cold down here (almost freezing) and raining, sometimes even ice. Winter in southern Brazil is no joke.

Day 10

Today we woke up to pouring rain, but luckily there is a turf field here at the complex, so training was not cancelled. The boys went out to do some fitness activities while I went back to the rehab center to check up on my injury. I was prescribed the same treatment, and they said I would be able to do some running the next day, but nothing with a soccer ball yet. The thing with injuries is that if you do the treatment correctly, you will be able to come back quickly, and since I am here for such a small period of time, following the doc's recommendations is a must.

This afternoon we had another break, so I could get more treatment and prepare for the following day.

Day 11

Today was another rainy day, so we went out to the turf field once again. I was able to participate in some of the lighter activites involving only jogging and passing, but rest was considered best for my injury. The first drill was a shooting one. There would be a pattern of layoffs and passes which resulted in a shot. On one side of the field we did left foot, on the other right, once again trying to even out both feet. Our coach stressed to us the importance of doing these drills correctly so that when gametime comes, it would be natural and scoring would be easy.

In the afternoon there was a friendly, but against a more challenging team. We played against the local army station and won 4-0, but the game was more physically challenging since this was, of course, the military. Some of the boys coming off of injuries were able to play in this game, so we saw very different first- and second-half teams. The aim of these friendlies was to prepare the team for the upcoming league. Once again, 4-3-3 was the formation, and this time the use of the flanks was very obvious to me, but even more so, the fluidity of play in the final third. No one rushes anything, but the whole team works together to find an opening in the opponent's defense.

Day 12

Today I didn't follow training but instead tried to find a solution for my injury in order to get back on the field. In the morning checkup, the result was that I needed an ultrasound. The next appointment was Monday night, so as soon as I get that done I'll let you know what is wrong with me, and I'll be able to get back to the fields as soon as possible. Meanwhile I'll be in the rehab center treating my injury. Even though this is frustrating since this is such a good opportunity, I want to reiterate that this is just a fact of a soccer player's life, and it happens to too many soccer players.

Day 13

This Saturday morning the boys did some speed training followed by some exercises in the pool. The training here is lighter, and the aim of it is to speed up the recuperation of the team for Monday morning training. Hopefully I can partake in the activites again as soon as possible, but meanwhile I'll have the weekend off to relax and get some more treatment.

Thanks to whomever has been following my blog. I hope I have been able to enlighten you about the life of a professional soccer player in Brazil. The difference here is really big as far as soccer goes, but the U.S. is not far behind and has the resources to turn itself into a powerful soccer nation.