Skip to content

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

Jul 24, 2014, 7:10 PM EDT

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. ICC preview: Barcelona, Man United, Chelsea, PSG wrap up USA tours this week

    Jul 27, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    Diego Costa, Chelsea FC — 2015 International Champions Cup Diego Costa, Chelsea FC — 2015 International Champions Cup

    The Premier League’s big boys each play once more in the USA before heading back to England for the start of the new season.

  2. Stoke City sign ex-Barcelona, PSV winger, free agent Ibrahim Afellay

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:39 PM EDT

    Ibrahim Affelay, FC Barcelona Getty Images

    Afellay makes four ex-Blaugranas on the books at Stoke, where Mark Hughes is aiming for European qualification.

  3. Bundesliga teams are scared of Bayern Munich — It needs to stop, says Mats Hummels

    Jul 27, 2015, 7:56 PM EDT

    Mats Hummels, Borussia Dortmund Mats Hummels, Borussia Dortmund

    As Bayern chase their fourth straight Bundesliga title (it would be a first), Mats Hummels says the league’s other teams need to stop fearing them.

  4. Official: Chelsea legend Didier Drogba announced as Montreal Impact Designated Player

    Jul 27, 2015, 6:06 PM EDT

    Didier Drogba, Chelsea FC & Montreal Impact Didier Drogba, Chelsea FC & Montreal Impact

    Drogba has arrived in MLS, and he even got to choose which team he’ll play for — kinda.

  5. MLS Player of the Week — Week 21: Orlando City SC’s Cyle Larin

    Jul 27, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

    Cyle Larin bagged his first pro hat trick on Sunday, somehow outshining David Villa at Yankee Stadium.

  6. MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 21

    Jul 27, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    David Villa, New York City FC David Villa, New York City FC

    Villa, Giovinco, Finlay and more — this week’s MLS Team of the Week.

  7. Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Bournemouth

    Jul 27, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Bournemouth logo

    The first of three newly promoted sides, do the Cherries have what it takes to stay in the Premier League?

  8. VIDEO: PST Extra – Premier League’s big transfer deals; which clubs need to spend more?

    Jul 27, 2015, 2:24 PM EDT

    Louis van Gaal, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Matteo Darmian Louis van Gaal, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Matteo Darmian

    JPW dissects the top deals, discusses which clubs have done the best business and which need to get a shift on.

  9. Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Aston Villa

    Jul 27, 2015, 12:50 PM EDT

    Aston_Villa_Logo_851684732

    Can Sherwood rejuvenate Villa and show progress is being made? Losing Benteke and Delph will hurt his chances of doing that.

  10. Amid reports of journalist brawl, Mexico boss Miguel Herrera looks ahead to USMNT showdown

    Jul 27, 2015, 10:20 AM EDT

    We will see some more epic celebrations from Herrera this summer? AP

    El Tri boss could be in a lot of trouble if these reports are true.

  11. Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Arsenal

    Jul 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    arsenal logo

    Can the Gunners improve on their third-place finish from last season?

  12. Mexico 3-1 Jamaica: El Tri overpowers Cinderella story to win Gold Cup

    Jul 26, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT

    Mexico Getty Images

    It’s been an ugly tournament for El Tri, but they showed up ready to play in the finals.

  13. PL Friendly Roundup: Arsenal tops Wolfsburg, Everton runs over Hearts

    Jul 26, 2015, 9:32 PM EDT

    Lukaku Getty Images

    Arsenal won its second preseason trophy, while Romelu Lukaku logged a hat-trick for the Toffees.

  14. Wenger confirms Arsenal will not loan out 17-year-old Jeff Reine-Adelaide

    Jul 26, 2015, 8:26 PM EDT

    Reine-Adelaide Getty Images

    The French youth international impressed in the friendly against Wolfsburg, and Arsene Wenger wants him to stick around the Gunneres’ system.

  15. FOLLOW LIVE: Mexico and Jamaica battle in Gold Cup final

    Jul 26, 2015, 7:29 PM EDT

    Mexico Getty Images

    Banged up Mexico takes on rigid Jamaica in a scintillating Gold Cup final matchup.

Featured video

Analyzing PL clubs in the transfer window