Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith and defender Bradley Bourgeois met with For Club and Country this morning to discuss the latest on their preparations for the 2019 season. Watch (or read) what they had to say here.
Do you prepare specifically for the opponent in a preseason friendly, or just work on your own thing?
“We know a lot about Louisville – mind you, there’s plenty of changes there, so I’m sure they’ll be a slightly different proposition. For Montreal, our very first outing, the real keys for us are players in good health, getting decent minutes, finding their way around the field again, and just understanding what it’s about to be back on a competitive field against a good side.”
Do you line up like the regular-season, or to test guys out?
“We’ve got a number of new bodies. Probably, the same as a lot of other teams, there’ll be a mixture of groups. It won’t necessarily reflect what we’ll look like in 5-6 weeks’ time. It’s pairings, relationships. It really is, at this point, about getting the players into a decent mental and physical spot and space, and just feeling as though they’re making those incremental strides toward the start5 of the season. The real upside for us – and I’m sure again, a lot of other teams where the weather’s been a little bit inclement – we’re going to a good environment, fingers-crossed the weather’s decent for us. We know for sure the facilities are great, we’ve got two good teams, and hopefully next week is a real nice foundational piece for everyone, and then we can get ourselves back and can look at what comes next. We’ve got a nice place to go and get a really good week’s work going.”
Is it going to be a shock coming back to Nashville if the weather hasn’t improved in a week?
“It really is a lovely place. Hopefully we get a bit of sunshine, a bit of warmth on our backs. I think, importantly as anything, it enables coaches – and certainly it will enable me – to get the group not be so concerned about activity constantly because of the cold weather. We’ve been very fortunate going indoors at Vanderbilt, for which I’m extremely grateful. The dimensions of the field there are not ideal, and now we get a chance to be on good fields in the right circumstances, and get some good work done.”
“We’ve got some sore legs, one or two niggles, like a lot of groups I’m sure we’ll have two-three-four players at any given time that are not quite where you want them to be. But in the main, touch-wood, fingers-crossed, no serious problems. It’s a matter of making sure as many of the players as possible are really getting the workload they need, so physically they’re in the right place, and they’re able to get the right amount of structural work so that whoever’s in or out of the side, they’re ready for what comes next. We’ve got a game in six weeks’ time, we want to be ready for that, and I want as many of the players available and fighting for those spots as I can have.”
New players integrating with the squad well?
“Very well. No issues whatsoever. I think one or two of them knew players in the group when they turned up. The ones that didn’t have taken no time to settle in and feel comfortable in the surroundings. That’s a credit to the players that have come in and the way that they’ve mixed with the group, and it’s a credit to the players that are here, and they’ve welcomed them with open arms and made them feel like they’ve been here forever.”
Offseason treat you well?
“It’s been amazing. You take those first couple weeks off, and it’s nice to get the body rejuvenated and kind of step away from the season. You kind of go over what happened, what occurred, and what you can kind of do better. After about a couple more weeks – you get to that month – and you’re going ‘I’m ready to be back.’ I’m excited. We have a great group here, and we’re ready to go.”
Have you managed to use that rest to get 100% healthy?
“To be honest, I think the offseason was much-needed for me. The timing of it – of course we wanted to go on [in the playoffs] longer, but for myself and for my body – I took the right steps into making sure that it doesn’t occur again. There’s measures that I’ve taken to be able to help myself in the future. I think it’s really come a long way – in terms of how I feel – in this preseason.”
“You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to Monday when we’re in Florida, and we’re out there and it’s above 65 degrees and on grass. It’ll be really nice.”
How have the new signings built relationships with the returning players?
“To be honest, it feels like they were here last year. That sounds kind of weird, but in a sense of we have a core group of guys that we know what to expect, we know what kind of values that we’ve established, and we know what kind of culture that we want here in the club. The guys have just seamlessly entered in, and it seems like they’ve been here for a while, so it feels good.”
What is Ken Tribbett’s game like?
“Ken brings a presence. I think he’ll tell you that himself. He’s not shy to let his presence be known, which is not a bad thing. He wants to be a voice; he wants to be a leader. He’s also shown a quality on the ball, which is always great to have from another center-half. At the end of the day, he’s a good guy: I think that’s what they’re trying to bring here to this club. It’s not [just] about what’s on the field, but it’s also off. He brings a lot.”
And Darnell King?
“Darnell and I, we’ve kind of sat down and talked. For him and I, it’s just bout building a relationship off the field as well as on. Some of the drills we do – the 2-v-2s – we try to partner up, just to have that type of sense of relationship that I think we can build. It’s funny, because the first couple days, maybe a week, we weren’t really together in the things that we were doing. We kind of made more of an effort this week to get together.”
Playing a competitive friendly
“It’s nice to kick your own teammates – as much as that sounds funny – but it’s even better to kick somebody else. You see the same guys over and over and over again, but once you get into a real opponent, it kind of feels like, ‘hey we’re really doing this thing, and we’re gonna wind up and get going again.’ To get down there to play Montreal and Louisville – which obviously is a good team – we’re excited.”