CHICAGO—Newcomers Demetrius Omphroy and Matthew Uy are making a good account of themselves as they stake their claim for regular spots in the Philippine football team intensifying its buildup here for the Suzuki Cup late this year.
Omphroy and Uy, who came on as halftime substitutes in the 1-3 loss to the Chicago Inferno last Saturday, have impressed Azkals coach Michael Weiss and manager Dan Palami only a week into training with the national side.
“They were able to rise to the challenge in the second half (against the Inferno),” said Weiss.
Palami said Omphroy, who was drafted by Major League Soccer side Toronto two years ago, “provides a certain quality and maturity in the squad.”
The 22-year-old Omphroy played for Panama only at youth level, making him still eligible for the Philippines senior side.
The manager said the 22-year-old Uy, who played college soccer at Fairfield University, has been standing out with his good vision and distribution from midfield.
Another prospect, Josh Boone, will be a strong candidate for the senior side in the future, Palami added.
“This camp has also allowed us to evaluate new players and they seem to be promising additions to the squad,” said Palami.
“People should understand that camps have certain objectives that we want to accomplish and one of them is experimenting on players and trying out new formations and this is what we do during test matches,” said Palami.
The Azkals have been undergoing twice-a-day sessions since they arrived Aug. 4 to improve fitness and cohesion.
Meanwhile, Rob Gier arrived here Sunday night to give the Azkals a boost it badly needs defensively a few days before its duel with US Virgin Islands in Indianapolis.
The Azkals, who continue to miss skipper Aly Borromeo because of injury, are short on defenders in this training camp with midfielders Jason de Jong and Jeff Christiaens moved to play in a makeshift backline against the Inferno.
The 31-year-old Gier is one of the most experienced players in the side, having been with the Azkals in the historic run to the 2010 Suzuki Cup semifinals as well as the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup.
Gier’s presence is expected to shore up the Azkals’ defense which conceded three goals in 32 minutes, a deficit that proved too difficult to overcome even after a solid showing in the second half.
“I’m here to do my usual job, maybe be a steadying ship at the back and communicate with the players,” said Gier. “We want to make sure we keep improving and ensure that things are right come November.”
Gier was referring to the 2012 Suzuki Cup where the Azkals have been marked as among the darkhorses.