Past American adventures: part one
9th July 2016
With the Swans currently preparing for their sixth season in the Premier League with a ten-day training camp in Washington DC, we take a look back at the club's previous tours to America. In the first of our two-part series, the Swans made their first ever trip Stateside in July 2012 . . .
The summer of 2012 was an exciting time for Swansea City. No sooner had the Great Dane Michael Laudrup landed at the Liberty Stadium, the club was jetting off for its first pre-season tour of America.
There was great anticipation and excitement around the club and the city as Swansea's new manager, one of the game's greatest players, took a 23-man new squad for a 12-day training camp in Denver Colorado and then California.
Included were new signings Jonathan de Guzman, Chico and fellow Spaniard Michu who arrived relatively unknown from Rayo Vallecano in Spain.
"Michu scored 16 goals in the top Spanish league,'' said Laudrup. "To get someone who scores a lot of goals normally costs a lot of money, so we are very happy with this £2m deal.''
There was also a place in the squad for a certain 19-year-old called Ben Davies who was promoted from the Youth set-up to join the seniors for the first time to cover for regular left-back Neil Taylor who was away on Team GB Olympic duty.
"To be involved with the first team in a tour like this is great," said Davies. "I thought I would have been travelling to Aberystwyth not America, so it was a nice surprise to be involved. I'm hoping to use this trip as a step to push on with the first team.''
Swans tour squad: Michel Vorm, Ashley Williams, Alan Tate, Leon Britton, Andrea Orlandi, Danny Graham, Wayne Routledge, Garry Monk, Luke Moore, Angel Rangel, Kemy Agustien, Mark Gower, Gerhard Tremmel, Fede Bessone, Chico, Jonathan De Guzman, Gwion Edwards, Jazz Richards, Nathan Dyer, Stephen Dobbie, Leroy Lita, Ben Davies, Michu.
The club had three games lined up against MLS duo Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes, plus local side Ventura County Fusion.
The Swans also had to overcome another challenge - that of soaring temperatures and high altitude.
"Our first training session was held in temperatures of 36C, which is something the boys aren't used to,'' said Ryland Morgans, head of sports science. "That, along with the fact we are in high altitude - a mile above sea level - can make it very difficult and lead to altitude sickness or loss of breath.
"There's a lot less oxygen in the air where we are playing, so the players will struggle to breathe normally. That means they will feel as if they have played 90 minutes when they have played 45 minutes. Other factors in this heat include sun burn and jet lag. But the players have shown the right attitude. They know they have to battle through it - and that's what they are doing.''
First up was Western Conference side Colorado Rapids, owned by Arsenal's majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, at the 18,000-seater Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City.
The Swans were 2-0 down within 14 minutes before de Guzman pulled one back in the second half with a stunning free-kick from 25 yards.
Despite the 2-1 defeat Laudrup, who made ten changes at half-time, felt he learned a great deal about his squad and took plenty of positives in front of a crowd of 6,484.
"It was a very important game for me to see,'' said Laudrup. "I got to see nearly every player. I took plenty from it - that's why we are here. I wanted to come here open-minded. I've seen a lot of other players from last season, while there are others who I haven't seen that much from. So I wanted to see for my own eyes."
Swans: (first half): Tremmel, Richards, Monk (capt), Williams, Bessone, Britton, Gower, Michu, Dyer, Dobbie, Graham.
Swans (second half): Tremmel, Rangel, Chico, Tate, Davies, Agustien, de Guzman, Orlandi, Routledge, Moore, Lita.
Having moved on to a new base in California, next up was Ventura County Fusion, who played their football in the Western Conference's Southwest Division of the Premier Development League at their 5,000-seater Oxnard College Stadium.
Luke Moore scored the only goal of the game when he tucked home Danny Graham's cross after 21 minutes as Laudrup named two different starting XIs for each half.
Swans (first half): Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Tate, Davies, Britton, de Guzman, Michu, Routledge, Moore, Graham.
Swans (second half): Tremmel, Richards, Monk, Williams, Bessone, Agustien, Gower, Orlandi, Edwards, Lita, Dobbie.
"I was happy with the performance - the result was not the most important thing for me," said Laudrup. "Everybody played 45 minutes, and together with the game against Colorado Rapids I know a little more about the squad. I'm pleased with the progression we are making."
After the game, skipper Garry Monk hailed the fantastic support of the Jack Army during their tour.
The locals had turned out in force wearing their Swans shirts and were keen to discuss the club's forthcoming season in the Premier League.
"To see so many Swans shirts across the Pond is unbelievable," said the defender. "It's a mixture of people who have travelled over to follow us, ex-pats and locals who have really taken to Swansea City and our fabulous journey.
"Speaking to the locals, they are very knowledgeable about our club and the Premier League - it just hits home how big this league is around the world. When I joined here, there were people across the Severn Bridge who didn't know us, let along across the other side of the world. Now everyone knows about Swansea City and that is testament to all the hard work that everyone puts in at this club."
The Swans signed off their American tour with a thrilling 2-2 draw with MLS Western Conference leaders San Jose Earthquakes in front of 9,239 at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Laudrup's men looked to be heading for victory as they led 2-0 with just over ten minutes remaining thanks to goals from Danny Graham and Chico - his first for the club since arriving from Genoa. But Steven Lenhart denied the Swans victory with two goals in five minutes.
Swans: Vorm, Rangel (Richards, ht), Chico (Monk, 75), Williams (Tate, 62), Davies (Bessone, 80), Britton (Agustien, 62), de Guzman (Gower, 75), Michu (Orlandi, 80), Routledge (Dyer, ht), Moore (Dobbie, 62), Graham (Lita, 75). Unused subs: Tremmel, Edwards.
"I said before the tour that I wanted to see everyone over the three games,'' said Laudrup. "Everyone got their chance and we have got much better every day we've been out here.
Striker Danny Graham also insisted the tour had been "hugely beneficial" to the club's Premier League preparations.
"We have built on our match fitness throughout the tour, and that's great news for us,'' said Graham.
"We are getting used to the way the new guys like Chico, Michu and de Guzman play, and vice versa - which is very important. So we head back home with a lot of positives."
Those positives remained as the Swans finished ninth in the Premier League with 46 points and clinched a debut place in the Europa League after lifting the Capital One Cup for the first time with a crushing 5-0 victory over Bradford City at Wembley Stadium.
See the second and final part of our US rewind on the website tomorrow.
READ MORE . . .
- GALLERY: Training in the US
- VIDEO: Travelling to Washington DC
- King signs new deal
- Barrow wants to keep fans on their feet