Skip to content

11 Things From AC Milan’s Training Session in New York

Jul 24, 2014, 7:10 PM EST

mario-balotelli-cosmos-1000

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Summers spent stateside have become de rigueur for Europe’s top clubs. From Arsenal to Liverpool to reigning European champs Real Madrid, it seems as though all of UEFA’s heavy hitters are here in the States. Indeed, the footballing talent pool currently assembled on these shores would give Brazil circa mid-June a serious run for its money.

Now you can add Mario Balotelli and AC Milan to that impressive list.

The Rossoneri touched down at JFK on Wednesday, and shortly afterwards they piled into a bus and drove out to Long Island to partake in a closed-door scrimmage with NASL side, the New York Cosmos.

The scrimmage didn’t wind up taking place — no explanation was given as to why Milan backed out of playing Pele’s former club — but both sides held training sessions that were viewed by the media and a select group of supporters.

Here are 11 takeaways from what was seen at the Cosmos’ training ground on Wednesday.

1. Balotelli’s big here too: Even in doing nothing, Mario Balotelli somehow dominated the proceedings in L.I. He was the last one off the bus when Milan arrived, but drew by far the most applause from the fans outside the locker room. He put forth minimal effort during training, but the assembled media was discussing his every move. He was the last one out of the locker room upon leaving, but the fans waited until the very end just to catch a glimpse of his blonde mohawk. Ever the showman, he lived up to his legend by doing very little. Which is usually the way of cool, no?

2. Gentleman Honda: Attacking midfielder Keisuke Honda was one of two players made available to the media after practice (Sulley Muntari was the other) and despite giving off a cocksure air on the pitch, the Japanese international was a humble gentleman off of it. He answered every question politely and even tried his best to add insight to a difficult question about whether he thinks fellow Japanese international Shinji Kagawa‘s future really lies at Manchester United. “He is my friend,” replied Honda. “I (hope) he will play very good at Manchester United. Or maybe he will transfer to another team also, where he can play better.”

3. Muntari talks World Cup exit: Along with Kevin-Prince Boateng, Sulley Muntari was famously sent home from the World Cup early by the Ghanaian football federation. While Muntari didn’t fully disclose why he was sent home, he said that he would tell all when the time was right. “It’s my country. I love my country,” said Muntari, when asked about Brazil. “There are certain things I want to say, but I will say them at the (right) time. So now, I just don’t want to talk about it, but my country’s always going to be my country.”

4. Pippo’s peppy practices: Milan spent most of the training session running an 11-v-11 drill across the width of the field that focused more on shape and distribution out of the back than actual attacking play. New coach Pippo Inzaghi was very hands-on, shouting instructions and chasing the ball throughout, and his involvement infused the drill with plenty of intensity. Hard play was the norm, with a couple of scary collisions taking place as well. After Milan’s lackluster 2013-14, Pippo’s serious approach could bode well for the Rossoneri’s upcoming Serie A campaign.

5. Big Adil: Despite playing in just 18 matches for Milan last season, central defender Adil Rami was easily the most vocal player on the pitch on Wednesday. The French international’s booming voice was heard constantly during practice. He and ex-Chelsea center back Alex were arguably the most impressive backline players during the extended 11-v-11 drill.

6. Dang, Niang: The attacking player who impressed the most during training was 19-year-old French forward M’Baye Niang. The lanky forward has tremendous pace, as well as skill on the ball. He’s one of those players who makes the game look far easier than it really is.

7. Ladies in red (hats): As both clubs are sponsored by Emirates airline, there were six female flight attendants in attendance for the entirety of Wednesday’s training session. Donning their signature tan dress-suits and red hats, they stood in a straight line for the entire two hours. In all honesty, it was a touch curious.

8. Big name missing: Brazilian forward Robinho was not in attendance on Wednesday, and is apparently not touring with the club this summer. Those MLS rumors just might have some credibility, after all.

9. El Staaraway: With his signature dyed mohawk-pompadour hairdo and a sly grin on his face, Stephan El Shaaraway was easily the second-most popular Milan player with the stateside fans. He and Super Mario seem to have the ability to draw attention from supporters as easily as they do rival defenders.

10. Lazy, but Super Mario: Surprising no one, Balotelli was the picture of indifference during the club’s stretching exercises. But when he did put forth the effort to run at a full clip during competitive sprints, it was a sight to behold. It’s just rare to find players his size who can move as gracefully — and as quickly — as he does.

11. Chuffed ex-Chelsea lads: At this point in their careers, one would expect veteran stars Michael Essien and Alex to be indifferent to enthusiastic receptions from autograph-hungry fans. But both players were all smiles and genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves as they signed jerseys and took selfies with the local supporters. It was a bit touching, to be honest. Maybe both players are wise enough to drink these moments in during the latter stages of their impressive careers.

Latest Posts
  1. 2014’s Top Ten moments in Premier League – Numbers 5-1

    Dec 22, 2014, 3:28 PM EST

    Will Liverpool's late collapse prove pivotal? AP

    Want to know PST’s top moments of 2014 in the PL? Of course you do. Well, here they are.

  2. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Chelsea (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Dec 22, 2014, 2:26 PM EST

    Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    Watch the Potters take on the leaders at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

  3. UEFA rankings: Real Madrid finish 2014 on top, but who else excelled?

    Dec 22, 2014, 1:47 PM EST

    Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale

    Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. are the top dogs in European soccer after a stellar 2014. But who else is in the top 20?

  4. 2014’s Top Ten moments in Premier League – Numbers 10-6

    Dec 22, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Head butts, highlights and heroism from a memorable year of Premier League.

  5. NBC Sports to air first-ever “Premier League Breakaway” show on New Year’s Day

    Dec 22, 2014, 12:10 PM EST

    nbcsports1 (1)

    All the details here, as 30 PL games in seven days will be capped off in style to see in the New Year.

  6. Premier League preview: Stoke City vs. Chelsea

    Dec 22, 2014, 11:58 AM EST

    U.S. international, left, has become a regular for the Potters and is loving life in the Premier League. He had a big hand as Stoke famously beat Chelsea to ignite their season. Getty Images

    Can Cameron’s Stoke City beat Chelsea for the second-straight season? Watch live on NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET.

  7. Jonas Gutierrez plays first game for Newcastle since beating testicular cancer

    Dec 22, 2014, 11:04 AM EST

    Gutierrez Getty Images

    After surgery and chemotherapy, Jonas made his return for Newcastle on Monday.

  8. Brendan Rodgers: Liverpool can still finish in the top four

    Dec 22, 2014, 10:11 AM EST

    Crystal Palace v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    Rodgers confident his side can go on a run and re-write the PL history books.

  9. DeAndre Yedlin granted work permit, heading to Tottenham Hotspur

    Dec 22, 2014, 8:30 AM EST

    Source: Tottenham Hotspur Source: Tottenham Hotspur

    No need for a Latvian passport, as Yedlin is granted UK work permit.

  10. Geoff Cameron: Eden Hazard is “best I’ve played against” in Premier League

    Dec 22, 2014, 7:55 AM EST

    Eden Hazard, Geoff Cameron Eden Hazard, Geoff Cameron

    Geoff on how to stop Chelsea, marking Hazard and the busy festive period in the Premier League.

  11. Antoine Griezmann bursts into the spotlight as Atletico downs Bilbao

    Dec 21, 2014, 11:59 PM EST

    Antoine+Griezmann+Getafe+CF+v+Club+Atletico+wVX6J_Xdokul

    Antoine Griezmann breaks out with three goals in Atletico’s 4-1 result over Athletic Bilbao.

  12. A day of Ronaldo: Real Madrid star erects statue of himself, thinks Real can win Champions League again

    Dec 21, 2014, 10:21 PM EST

    FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-BARCELONA FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-BARCELONA

    Cristiano Ronaldo has made headlines twice today, for erecting a statue of himself and claiming Real Madrid could repeat in the Champions League.

  13. WATCH: Tim Howard discusses autobiography ‘The Keeper’

    Dec 21, 2014, 8:17 PM EST

    tim_howard Getty Images

    Tim Howard converses about his recently released autobiography, “The Keeper.”

  14. Eyeing France national team call-up, AC Milan’s Jérémy Ménez keeps showing off his skills

    Dec 21, 2014, 7:40 PM EST

    Jeremy+Menez+qojlhLjziL0m Getty Images

    Jeremy Menez has done a fantastic job as AC Milan’s primary attacker, and he’s primarily aiming for the French national team call-up.

  15. Manager Ally McCoist exits Rangers, goes on gardening leave

    Dec 21, 2014, 6:20 PM EST

    Ally McCoist Getty Images

    Ally McCoist has left Scottish Championship team Rangers, as the club has recognized the former star striker is now on “gardening leave.”

  16. Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge to return from injury in January, according to manager

    Dec 21, 2014, 4:55 PM EST

    Manchester City Liverpool Soccer AP

    According to Brendan Rogers, Liverpool’s prime attacker, Daniel Sturridge, will make his return from a multi-month injury in early January.

  17. With his derby success, Adam Johnson thinks Newcastle United fans ‘must hate him’

    Dec 21, 2014, 4:05 PM EST

    adam_johnson AP

    Sunderland winger Adam Johnson on game-winner and Tyne-Wear derby triumphs: “Three years in a row, they must hate me here!”

  18. VIDEO: Poor finishing leaves Brendan Rodgers “deflated” despite late draw

    Dec 21, 2014, 3:39 PM EST

    Rodgers Getty Images

    Brendan Rodgers gives his thoughts after a 2-2 draw despite what he called “dominance” on the ball.

Featured video

JPW's top five PL moments of 2014