Teemu Tainio Aiming to Build Off First MLS Season

The 2011 season didn’t exactly end the way Teemu Tainio would’ve wanted it to.

In the second leg of the Conference Semifinals against Los Angeles, the Finnish midfielder came up limping with an apparent leg injury. Despite every intention to play through the pain, Tainio was forced to leave the pitch in what later amounted to a 2-1 loss that sent the Red Bulls into an early offseason.

Suffice it to say, he wasn’t exactly happy with how things transpired.

"It really pissed me off to come off because we were leading 1-0, we were playing really well. It was in our hands,” Tainio said during a break in training camp at Montclair State University. “But that's football sometimes. You get injured and you can't go on. I was really disappointed that I couldn't help the team.”

Prior to the postseason injury, Tainio played in all but six regular season matches, registering two assists in over 2,400 minutes and creating a few highlight reel-worthy plays along the way.  Now, with one year of competition in Major League Soccer under his belt, Tainio has developed a stronger sense of what to expect during his sophomore campaign.

“It's very athletic in the league and it's a lot of traveling,” said Tainio. “That's one thing for players who come here; they have to get used to it. But you can have an easier second season or you can have the second-year syndrome. I think I will have the easier second year. I'm really looking forward to this upcoming season."

With 10 weeks of the offseason at his disposal, Tainio was able to unwind, heal up and prepare himself for the upcoming 2012 season. His workout regimen included “a little bit of everything,” with tennis, cross-country skiing and running taking up the bulk of his free time.

Although disappointed with both his injury in the playoffs and the team’s finish in 2011, Tainio is putting last season behind him and focusing on the road ahead. He is, in his own words, “ready to rock and roll.”

“I was pleased that I stayed fit for almost the entire season, but most of the part I felt good about the team. And of course as a club we wanted to win something, and we didn't, so that was a bit disappointing."

The Red Bulls leave for Mexico Mon., Jan 30, for continued training and a series of preseason matches. On Feb. 20 the team will jet off to Arizona to compete in Reto del Sol and the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup before returning home on Mar. 4, one week before the season opener on the road in Dallas.