By John Philip Wyllie
For months, the San Diego Sunwaves have been heralding the imminent arrival of Mexican national team goal scoring leader Maribel Dominguez, but previous commitments and delays kept her playing for her club team in Spain until a few days ago. Wednesday night, Sunwaves fans got their first look at the crafty forward and it might just be a case of love at first sight.
Still jet-lagged from Tuesday’s arduous journey from Spain, Dominguez was held out of the first half of this critical late-season match. Watching from the bench, she cheered on her new teammates as they took a 2-0 lead over the Vancouver Whitecaps. Coming into the game in its 68th minute, Dominguez immediately displayed the touch and speed that she is noted for.
Less than a minute after former U.S. national team star Tiffeny Milbret closed the gap for Vancouver to 2-1, Dom-inguez worked herself free and fed Sunwaves midfielder Rebekah Patrick for an insurance goal. The best however, was still yet to come.
In the game’s waning moments, Dominguez was able to again shake loose. From about 35-yards out she uncorked a blistering shot that found its way into the upper right corner of the goal. The 4-1 victory vaulted the Sunwaves over Vancouver into sole possession of first place in the W-League West.
After signing autographs for an enthusiastic crowd that was no doubt larger than usual due to her presence, Dominguez consented to answering a few questions. We started with her recently completed season in Spain.
“It was a goal of mine to go to Spain to help a team grow. I wanted to help a lower division team in Barcelona make it into the Premier Division (which she did). The competition in Spain was good. They have some very fast players, but the level of play there is not as good as what I experienced here in the United States in the WUSA.”
Asked for an update on her involvement with the Mexican national team Dominguez said that coach, Leonardo Cuellar had given her (and Sunwaves teammates Sophia Perez and Lisa Gomez) some time off in order to allow them to play in San Diego.
“The team is currently in China on a tour that will prepare them for the upcoming Pan-American Games in Brazil.”
Dominguez had a lot of praise for her new teammates and is delighted to return to the same stadium where she once played for the Atlanta Beat during her days in the WUSA.
“I still have to find my rhythm and I will need more time to get into synch with the other players here, but it felt good to get out there tonight and I only played a little bit, so I’m not too tired. I like this team. Everybody plays well together and they have good touch on the ball.”
We ended by talking about a tradition she has established.
“Whenever join a new team I like to start by scoring a goal or two in my first game. Tonight, I have to give thanks to God for my goal, because I was only out there for a short time.”
One can only imagine what she might do given a full 90 minutes instead of the 22 she received on Wednesday.