Alen Marcina Embraces Challenge As Rayo OKC Prepares For Inaugural Campaign

With its inaugural season in the NASL near, Marcina is building a squad capable to compete from the get-go
Matthew Levine (@NASLInsider} | Feb 1, 2016

Rayo OKC head coach Alen Marcina has plenty of experience in the NASL – he led the San Antonio Scorpions to the 2014 title. He knows exactly what challenges lie ahead in the club’s first year, a task made more difficult by the quality signings around the league during the offseason.

“The player signings this year are amazing throughout the league,” Marcina told “I’ve been involved in the NASL for the past four years and 2016 has been the most impressive selection of players throughout the league that I’ve seen. Everyone is heavily investing in the product on the field, which is great for the league, and people are taking notice of the NASL – it’s a strong league and more and more quality players are coming to the NASL and it’s great to see.”

To their credit, Rayo OKC has compiled a squad, thus far, that should be ready to compete from Day 1, which is April 2 when the club hosts FC Edmonton in its first match.

The growing roster now includes: Derek Boateng, a veteran international from Ghana joined from La Liga’s Eibar; a strong back line with Rauwshan McKenzie, Kosuke Kimura, and Michel as a foundation; and dynamic midfielders in Sebastian Velasquez and Billy Forbes.

Forbes and Tyler Gibson are recent signings who have played for Marcina in the past and could be cornerstones as Rayo OKC navigates its first NASL season and beyond.

“I feel Billy is one of the best attacking players in the league – I feel strongly about that,” Marcina said. “He’s definitely a fan favorite. It helps working with him for the last couple of years, and I know how to get the best out of Billy. I expect that he’s going to do great things again this year. He’s backed it up with his stats over the last two years, and I think he can surpass those stats this season.”

Marcina added: “With Tyler Gibson you get a first-class individual and professional. He’s a guy that I made the comment last year that if I could sign Tyler Gibson for the next five years I would. He’s the type of player that every coach wants in their squad.”

Both players were offered their first professional contracts during Marcina’s time in San Antonio, and the Rayo OKC coach is hoping to find more young players who can make an impact right out of college.

“As a staff we have a knack for signing talent and we’ve shown that,” Marcina said. “There will be a couple of those types of players this season at Rayo OKC, and I’m sure in the future as well. We have a couple we’re high on that we’ve signed that have the potential to have great careers as Billy and Tyler are having so far.”

Marcina took the helm after finding that his philosophy matched with owners Raúl Martin Presa and Sean Jones. Now backed with some talent, Marcina plans to bring an entertaining style of play to Miller Stadium.

“We’re going to be playing the Rayo way, which is entertaining, fast-paced possession-oriented soccer that the fans will appreciate and a lot of our player signings – a number we haven’t announced – are players with flair that fans will want to get behind,” he said. “That’s the goal here – this is the city’s team – and we want to have a product they are proud of. So far, so good.”

While Marcina knows the challenges that lie ahead for the expansion side, he’s ready to tackle them head on in the club’s first season.

“We embrace the challenge and look forward to it,” he said. “We want to go out and put a product on the field that the fans are proud of and can get behind. The short-term goals are to make sure the style of play we want to implement the guys buy into, and if we can exhibit that to the fans and the league, we’ll deem that as a success and results will come.”

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