Nearing the final stretch of the preseason, MetroStars fans should be excited. After a successful campaign in Bradenton, Fla., the Metros will travel to the West Coast for the next leg of trainiing at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Head coach Mo Johnston is excited about the cross-country trip, where his squad will play the Los Angeles Galaxy, Chivas USA, the Chicago Fire and Houston 1836 in a span of a week. The trip, however, will not include some of the MetroStars that played with the squad in Florida.
"Marvell (Wynne) is over in Germany having surgery," said Johnston. "Adrian Serioux will be with the Canadian national team and Peter Canero is having some visa problems."
Wynne will be in Munich to deal with a sports hernia. Renowned surgeon Dr. Ulrike Muschaweck will be using a specialized procedure that boasts a recovery time of less than a month - which is half the recovery time needed for the procedure in the U.S. The MetroStars have hopes that Wynne can return to the team late in the California camp.
With one month still remaining until the regular season beings, Johnston plans to put certain players in for the upcoming games.
"It's a long preseason," said Johnston. "I am going to take it from how I feel things are going. Youri (Djorkaeff) won't play as many games. There will be different things to look at."
Do not expect a first-team lineup on March 3 when the Metros face off with the Galaxy.
"We will be playing a lot of the younger guys to give them some more time so I can see where I want to go from there," said Johnston. "This is where I get to work tactically, which I'm looking forward to because the group we have is very flexible."
One position that Johnston will have a tough time dealing with is between the posts, as goalkeepers Tony Meola and Jon Conway battle it out for the top spot.
"Tony is healthy; Jon is healthy," said Johnston. "Both of them have performed well."
With midfielder Michael Bradley gone, Johnston is positive that his two newest additions, Serioux and Elie Ikangu, will be able to fill the gap in the midfield. An official announcement regarding the signing of both players is expected in the coming days.
"Serioux is a tall and experienced player that helps in the midfield area," said Johnston. "It helps with the flexibility of our team if we want to play in different formations. Ikangu is strong and has a great international presence, which will significantly help us."
Once they finish off in California, the team will head back to New York and prepare for their opening game against D.C. United on April 2.
"We'll come back to regroup and hopefully we'll have certain guys and a strong group to start with," said Johnston.