Rayner Michael is a 21-year-old midfielder from Minas Gerais, Brazil. He joined the team in La Manga as an invitee and most recently played for Kiruna FF in Sweden.
Wednesday’s morning practice took place in “blustery conditions” and featured some 9 v. 9 possession work and a 12 v. 12 scrimmage.
In the afternoon, it got warmer and the skies cleared but the wind stayed. The team then played in a 13 v. 13 scrimmage using four goals and all four ‘keepers. The opening game in the La Manga Cup against Rosenborg is at 9 a.m Seattle time. I would expect a live blog from the team and a possible European broadcast.
Here are some quotes from head coach Sigi Schmid:
(on the team’s readiness to train following the long trip)
Actually they looked pretty good. A few players commented while out on the field that they thought they would be a little stiff, a little more tired. But usually that hits a little bit more the second day. Tomorrow (Thursday) with the game, we will let them sleep a little bit longer, let them catch up on that. We are not going to practice in the morning prior to the game. Overall, for the travel and everything, they looked alright.
(comparisons to a year ago in Argentina, with regard the objectives and the opposition)
In Argentina we were still looking at people, seeing what players could do. We were looking to see exactly what Montero would give us. We wanted to see what Alonso was all about. We wanted to see more of Zakuani, but he got injured in Argentina so we didn’t see all that much about him. And we didn’t have Freddie Ljungberg in that preseason. Now we know the answers to those questions, so this time it’s more about looking for what combinations work well together. How can we get the most out of Ljungberg and Montero on the field? Who is the best compliment to those two guys? What attributes in their game can they emphasize to make us a better team? So from that standpoint it’s definitely changed. The competition here is not going to be necessarily stronger than Argentina, but more organized competition. In Argentina, you’re sometimes playing a combination of reserves, youth players, second team guys and maybe some first team guys. Here you’re dealing with teams that are in preseason but are further along, like a Rosenborg. They probably began their preseason on January 5th or 6th, so they’re already 7-8 weeks into their preseason. They’re more cohesive and closer to their starting lineup. They are probably at a more advanced fitness level than where we’re at as well. Their guys are ready to go 90 minutes right now. All of those things are going to make the competition tougher for us, but that’s also better. I would rather be playing against this type of competition than playing against a college team and winning 6-0.
(on balancing winning vs. development)
Winning is always important; you always want to win games. But it’s also important to win games without losing sight of the development of our team. It’s a situation now where we don’t want to push guys unless the tournament rules force us to do so. We don’t want to push guys beyond 60 minutes. We want to avoid pushing a guy beyond where he should be fitness wise just for the sake of winning. From that standpoint, winning becomes secondary. You still want to win and each group that goes out there to play will take it as their challenge to win their 60 minutes, 45 minutes or their 30 minutes–whatever time they’re out there on the field. We want to make sure we win our portion of the game. If each group wins their portion we’ll win games.
(how has the La Manga Club, site of the tournament, has changed)
It’s definitely grown a little bit. We’re here in the hotel this time. When I was here with the Galaxy in 2003 we were in the condos up on the hill. Now they’ve completed the entire health center up there that houses the pool and fitness area. That was not complete during my last visit. The fields are similar. The sun’s out so we’ve already had better weather. Last time it was actually pretty cold; we had a dusting of snow one morning. Being at the hotel is a different and probably more relaxing experience for the team.
(on new invitees Jeff Parke and Rayner Michael)
With Jeff it’s a situation where he wanted to explore opportunities in Europe, and he had that opportunity last year. He’s indicated to us that he’s serious about playing and interested in MLS again. We have his rights; we took him in the expansion draft because we thought he was a good player and our thoughts haven’t changed in that regard. Now it’s just a matter of bringing him up to the level of the team in terms of fitness and everything else so that he doesn’t get injured. Then we will evaluate him and see where he fits into our group.
We wanted to see Rayner train and play in a couple games. He has an open ticket; he could stay throughout our entire time in La Manga or we could cut it short. We’ll see how it goes. His personality is good and he’s fit in good with the group. He’s comfortable playing in any part of the attacking midfield: outside right, outside left and in the middle. We’ll get a good look at him and look at him outside left tomorrow.
(on Terry Boss and Nate Jaqua staying back in Seattle to recuperate from injuries)
Both of those guys are pretty committed players; they work really hard. With Boss right now I wanted him to get his ankle right, to get the swelling out of it so it doesn’t become a nagging or a long term injury. He’s done very well in training up to this point. We felt if we had him here training with us he might push himself a little too quickly, too soon. That might convert that ankle injury into a nagging injury. With Jaqua it’s the same thing. With his first injection he may have come back a little too soon, tried too much. He felt good so he tried to do a little bit too much because he was training along with the team. Then the positive effects of the injection wore off and he was really almost back at ground zero. With the second injection we want him to take it slower. The anticipation is that he and Boss will join the team for training when we come back to Seattle. This allows them a slower healing process by staying at home.
Players present for the first day of training in La Manga:
Goalkeepers (4): Derby Carillo, Chris Eylander, Kasey Keller, Patrick Lane
Defenders (11): Leo Gonzalez, Taylor Graham, John Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Tyrone Marshall, Jeff Parke, James Riley, Zach Scott, Nathan Sturgis, Tyson Wahl, Jamel Wallace
Midfielders (8): Osvaldo Alonso, Michael Fucito, Stephen King, Freddie Ljungberg, Lamar Neagle, Sanna Nyassi, Rayner, Peter Vagenas
Forwards (5): David Estrada, Roger Levesque, Fredy Montero, Tye Perdido, Steve Zakuani
Graham (left hamstring) and Fucito (left hamstring) were limited to fitness work on the side.