Q&A with Wizards midfielder Preki
On Wednesday, Kansas City Wizards midfielder and reigning MLS MVP Preki returned to MLS action after missing 20 games due to injuries suffered during a preseason match. Preki spoke to MLSnet.com about coming back from the injury and the run-in to the MLS Cup Playoffs.
MLSnet.com: How did you feel - mentally and physically - about getting back on the field Wednesday?
Preki: I have mixed feelings because it was a bad result. Obviously, for myself it was exciting to come back and step on the field again. I was not physically ready yet to play a full game. I'm not even close to that point, but I have to start somewhere. I have to build my fitness, especially game fitness. Obviously, I'm in decent shape outside of the game, but when you step into the arena, you have to be game fit. I'm 20 games behind every single player in this league.
MLSnet.com: Do you think playing 45 minutes in your first game back was the best way to start out?
Preki: It was just right, and now I have to build on it. Hopefully, Saturday and in the next couple of games, I'll play 45 minutes, maybe a little bit longer than that.
MLSnet.com: Have you specifically discussed with Wizards coach Bob Gansler how much you will play in your upcoming matches?
Preki: We have not talked about it. We'll probably talk [Friday] or before the game on Saturday about how we approach it, but as of now, I don't have any indication of how long I'm going to play.
MLSnet.com: How has practicing yoga helped you during your rehabilitation from the injury?
Preki: I've been doing a lot of yoga, but doing yoga is not the same as running up and down the field. It's a different type of fitness. It helps me keep flexible and loose, but I need to step on the field and build my endurance. Hopefully, I'll be able to do that before we get into the playoffs.
MLSnet.com: The team has hit a rough stretch recently after a great start. How do you think your return will affect the team's performance?
Preki: I hope it affects it in a good way. I stepped into the team in kind of an awkward time. We've had a tough time the last three or four weeks. We are hoping to change that. As we all know, we had a tough time last year in the same time of the year. We had a pretty good start, but then we slowed down in the month of August, and that's happening to us again. But, we still have a few games this month to get out of the slump, and we can contend for first place in the West.
MLSnet.com: Do you feel any pressure to perform given the club's recent results?
Preki: I don't feel any pressure, any extra pressure. I'm always the guy who likes pressure, and I love to play under pressure. I am not at that point yet because physically I'm not at that level yet where I can say I can do whatever needs to be done on the field. Hopefully, pretty soon I will be at that point.
MLSnet.com: You've been forced to be an observer of the club's matches to this point in the season. How would you assess the club's performance and how does this team compare to past Wizards teams?
Preki: I don't really like to compare teams. This team has found a way to go about its business and get results. I would love us to be a team that possesses the ball a little bit better and attack a little bit more, and with me coming back, maybe I can help in that sense. We can be more of a possession team.
MLSnet.com: What players in the league have impressed you this year? As the reigning MVP, who would you say is the favorite to win the award this season?
Preki: The best player in the league, in my opinion, has been Amado Guevara in New York. Amado is a very entertaining player, a player who can attack and who can defend. He's got good vision on the field; he's very skillful. He's been, for me, the player that has really had a good season this year. Obviously, you can see where the MetroStars are. So far, for me, he's been the MVP of the league.
The other guy who has done a great job this is year is the young forward of the Kansas City Wizards, Davy Arnaud. I think he's been having an outstanding season for us. He's been playing very well. Davy's been one of the guys nobody really recognized before or now, but I think he's performed very well. He's not, obviously, a guy who's going to win the MVP, but he's been playing very solid every week.
MLSnet.com: Have you given any thought to next season yet?
Preki: I don't even want to talk about it. There's no point talking about that right now.
MLSnet.com: Could you handicap the Western Conference playoff race for us?
Preki: We'll see in the next couple of weeks. It's really hard to predict everything. As everybody knows, in this league, right now anybody can beat anybody. So, who knows? Whoever gets on a run right now and whoever gets in the best form is going to probably win the whole thing.