June 23, 2006

Perez has World Cup Dreams of her Own

By John Philip Wyllie

For the next several weeks, goaltender Oswaldo Sanchez will be the subject of intense scrutiny since he is one of the keys to Mexico’s World Cup success in Germany. Across the pond and out of the limelight, his female counterpart, Sophia Perez, is training for next year’s Women’s World Cup right here in San Diego.

“I joined the Mexican Women’s National Team in January of last year. So, it has been about a year and a half now,” Perez said prior to a recent San Diego Gauchos practice. “At the moment I would say that I am the starter. It has taken me quite a while to get to that position, but in the last three months I have been getting our toughest game (assignments).”

Perez, the former San Diego State goaltender, was in the nets recently for El Tri-colores against collegiate powerhouses, North Carolina, Portland and Notre Dame and she represented Mexico in a match against the Australian national team.

“I am the starter right now, but I have to keep working to (secure) my position.”

Having recently returned from an intensive training session with Mexico, Perez won’t see most of her Mexican teammates again until they reconvene in September to prepare for the Women’s World Cup qualifiers. In the meantime, she is minding the nets for the W-League’s San Diego Gauchos. Next month Perez will be joining the star-studded staff of Julie Foudy’s Soccer Camp.

It is her second coaching stint alongside Foudy, the former U.S. National Team and San Diego Spirit captain. Foudy’s former Spirit teammates, Jamie Pagliarulo, Kim Pickup and Ronnie Fair are expected to be among the camp’s assistant coaches as is Perez’s former Mexican national team teammate Alba Albeyta.

“Julie Foudy is my idol,” Perez gushed. “She is great with the kids and she has a way of making everyone feel important. I was just a poor Mexican kid growing up, so I never had the opportunity to go to a camp like this.” The all-day camp, which will be held at UCSD’s Rimac Sports Complex from July 11-14, is one opportunity she thinks that kids (8-18) should take advantage of. Perez would also like to see more kids attend her Gauchos home games.

“Last year, this team was just thrown together, but this year if you look up and down our roster you can see that it is a pretty high status team.” Now that several of its key players have returned from other commitments, she expects the lineup to jell and start playing some quality soccer. Since the demise of the WUSA, the W-League has become the highest level women’s soccer league in the United States.

Upcoming home games for the Gauchos include Seattle (6-16), Mile High (6-24) and Fort Collins (7-14). Games begin at 6:00p.m. and are played at the former home of the Spirit, USD’s Torero Stadium. Visit the Gauchos website: www.uslgauchos.com for additional information. For Julie Foudy’s Soccer Camp info visit: www.juliefoudysoccercamps.com

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