Danny Wilson has seen the highs and lows of Major League Soccer since he arrived in 2018. The even-keeled Scottish international joined at a time when points were not easy to come by, but he admits the Colorado Rapids are starting to see the fruits of their labors.
“We went through tough periods... but sometimes you have to go through it to get the benefits on the other side,” Wilson told the Burgundy Wave. “I think everyone would say those periods where we weren’t good made us hungrier and stronger.”
“Year over year there’s been huge overhauls — players coming in and out. If you look throughout the league, the teams that consistently perform well they keep a nucleus of the squad together over time,” said the veteran of English and Scottish football.
That’s exactly what Colorado is trying to form as they integrated a couple of individuals but return nearly all of their playoff roster so as to not disrupt the chemistry within the side.
“In keeping the majority of players here over a period of time, we hope further down the line you’ll see the benefits of that,” he explained. “That allows people to build up relationships off the field, but also on the field. If you look at us now, we all know each other’s game, we all know where everybody should be on the field, it’s just keeping that consistent aspect. Ideas come together quicker and stay for longer.”
That familiar squad gathered in early March to spend five weeks of focused training in Tucson, Arizona, leading up to the season opener this weekend in Dallas. Wilson explained the pre-season doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect to be a success. What’s more important is identifying issues and working on solutions before points begin to count.
“We made significant progress towards the tail-end of last season, and preseason’s been much the same trying to continue in that vein,” he said. “Obviously, when you’re away and working as intensely as you do, you make progress, then you see things that don’t quite work. We’re fortunate, too, in the fact that we’ve been here in such a concentrated period of time and been able to try and iron out, try new things, and see what works and doesn’t work for us.”
“You don’t want to go through every single pre-season game being a complete breeze and then when the real stuff starts you’re asking questions of each other. You want these questions to be asked early on to correct it, which we have,” said the thoughtful center back. “We’ve had some games we’ve performed really well in and we’ve had some games that we’ve not performed so well in and we’ve looked at those games even more so to say, right what could help us going forward?”
As Danny explained, every other MLS team is trying to do the exact same thing. “It’s a double-edged sword. You want to win every single game and win every single game well, but we’re in the nature of sport where you’re competing all the time and playing against people that aren’t going to let you do what you want to do so it’s a tough balance.”
“Every single team’s got a plan but it’s kind of trying to knock them off theirs and do yours to the best of your ability. We can look back on this whole preseason and be happy with the progress that was made, but the most important thing is going to be the game against Dallas.”
This weekend will begin Danny’s fourth season in Colorado, and he reveals one reason to fans why he probably looks so even-keeled: because he trusts the process. “Since I’ve been here, it’s always been said it’s going to be a 3-4 year project. Last year was year three and we made the playoffs. This is now year four so let’s get one step better.”
“Hopefully, when it comes to times of playoffs and going farther in the playoffs we’re much better for it because we’ve experienced things together, we’ll know how to win games, and that will be the important factor,” he said.