For a guy who’s come such a long way, what’s another 10 yards or so?
Colorado Rapids defender Marvell Wynne started playing in Major League Soccer when he was 19. That was eight years — an MLS Cup, an Olympics and four U.S. national team caps — ago.
In every one of those eight years, which started with the New York Red Bulls and included a stop at Toronto FC before arriving in Colorado four years ago, he’s started at least 20 matches, most of them at right back.
But now he’s making a slight shift to his left, taking over a center back role. That’s been his main focus during the Rapids’ two weeks of training in Tucson.
Colorado will wrap up its stay here by taking on the New England Revolution in today’s 3:30 p.m. match of the final FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup tripleheader at Kino Sports Complex North Stadium.
In the opening match at 1 p.m., Real Salt Lake will face Chivas USA. The event will wrap up with a 6:30 p.m. match between the Chicago Fire and the Chivas Guadalajara youth development team.
Wynne understands what will come along with the change in position.
“It’s different than playing right back, even though it’s just one small position over,” Wynne said after Friday’s practice. “The mentality is much different. As a right back, I get the ball and I think offensive, attack and getting forward. As a center back, I think more defensive position, play the ball that’s at a different angle, and a lot more organization.
“I would never say playing soccer anywhere is easy, but playing at center back is comfortable.”
Pablo Mastroeni, who is in charge of the team during preseason while Colorado searches for a coach, has been impressed.
“He’s played various different positions, but more on the right back side. For this team in the preseason, he’s been spectacular in that center back position,” said Mastroeni, who played with the Tucson Amigos for two seasons in the 1990s and retired last year after 16 seasons in the MLS. “Obviously, his positioning has gotten better over the years. And his ability to recover and cover for those next to him is critical in this game as it becomes more athletic and guys are coming in from all over the world. His ability to read the situations has only gotten better.”
“He’s a player that we’re counting on to be one of the leaders of this team.”
Wynne, who played with Mastroeni for the last four seasons, sees himself taking charge when needed.
“I feel there’s more of a leadership role since I’ve been around, and I see the jitters that these young guys have. I’m just encouraging them to be themselves. They’re here for a reason,” Wynne said.
Sounds like solid fatherly advice from a man whose dad was not stranger to the big leagues. The first Marvell Wynne roamed center field for eight major-league seasons with the Pirates, Padres and Cubs from 1983 to 1990.
Among the things passed down by his dad was his speed.
“I think Marvell is one of the anomalies in this league where he’s the fastest guy I’ve ever played against, and I think over the years he’s fine-tuned his game on a technical level and, more importantly, a tactical level,” Mastroeni said.
• Chivas Guadalajara’s youth development team, which will play Chicago in tonight’s final, has three wins and a loss in the early part of the season in the Mexican Second Division’s Liga de Nuevos Talentos (League of New Talents). Forward Daniel Rios has three goals in the four matches.