"Guess who just got back today? Those wild-eyed boys that had been away. Haven't changed, haven't much to say. But man, I still think those caps are great. They were asking if you were around. How you was, where you could be found. I told them you were living downtown. Driving all the young girls crazy. The boys are back in town."
Has it really been three months since referee Mark Geiger controversially awarded FC Dallas an 84th minute penalty kick with the score level at once apiece? The calendar would suggest so, but for some of us, it felt like it has been a far longer wait.
While the training tops were new, there hasn't been a great deal of change during the close season, at least not by our lofty standards. David Ousted, Paolo Tornaghi, and Marco Carducci have returned between the posts, though Carducci is sporting a shiny new number in 24.
At the back, Johnny Leverón looks set to join Carlyle Mitchell and Andy O'Brien, who have already moved on. But fret not, in their stead, manager Carl Robinson has brought in the powerful trio of Diego Rodriguez, Pa-Modou Kah, and Tim Parker. Perhaps due to his former allegiance, Kah got off to a running start, making friends with fellow Gambian Kekuta Manneh and future partner, Kendall Waston.
Kah was vocal from the off, cheering his new teammates on as training camp began with all manner of tests, including but not limited to vertical leap, obstacle courses, and the dreaded bleep test. As for the defenders, Sam Adekugbe, Christian Dean, and Ethen Sampson were absent for various reasons.
In the middle of the park, Mehdi Ballouchy was lost to New York City FC in the Expansion Draft, while Sebastián Fernández's loan deal was not extended, and their option on Bryce Alderson was declined. Kianz Froese and Russell Teibert were also absent, while Marco Bustos and Ben McKendry helped to make up the numbers.
Up front, Darren Mattocks was nowhere to be seen, while young designated player Octavio Rivero had some visa issues to attend to.
Draftees Kay Banjo and Spencer Richey also joined in on the fun alongside Jackson Farmer and Mitch Piraux. Vancouver's other draftees, Adam Montague, Craig Nitti, Nikola Paunic, and of course Simon Fraser's Jovan Blagodevic, were not present, though we don't expect that to hold true for long.
Last year, this group earned a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League, MLS Cup, and retained the Cascadia Cup. Now a year older, a year wiser, and with some key additions, we expect some big things from this group. And as Strength and Conditioning Coach Jon Poli said, "it all starts today."