March 27, 2009
By John Philip Wyllie
For fans of indoor soccer the long wait is almost over. The San Diego Sockers have resumed operations and will field a team at the beautiful soon to be completed Del Mar Arena as a member of the Premier Arena Soccer League. The season officially begins in November, but fans will gain their first glimpse of the new Sockers when they play an exhibition game against a club from Mexico in June.
Five of the team’s players and their coach and General Manager, Phil Salvagio were among those on hand at Del Mar’s Pasquale Italian Restaurant on March 14 to kick off the upcoming season. One of them was for Vista High and University of Portland star Miguel “Chicky” Luna.
“Both of my parents were born in Guanajuato, Mexico so I am a first generation American, but I retain strong ties down there. My first language was Spanish and at home growing up that is all that I spoke.”
Retaining his culture and language became important to Luna during the season that he played for Tampico Madero of the Primera A Division in Mexico.
“I had some great teammates there including Lucas Ayala who now starts for Tigres, one of the top teams in Mexico.”
While he enjoyed his season in Mexico, Luna is equally excited to now have the opportunity to play with the Sockers before his hometown fans.
“I remember a few years ago I enjoyed playing for the San Diego Flash. It was great to play in front of my friends and family. Now that they have brought pro soccer back to San Diego I am very excited to be a part of it. I have a very large family here and they have always followed my career. It is like having my own fan club,” Luna said.
Luna credits the La Jolla Nomads with developing him as a player. A few years back he was a major part of their national championship team.
“I grew up playing with the Nomads and my foundation both in soccer and as a person was developed there. I attribute just about everything that I have done and my success on and off the field to the Nomads Soccer Club. They helped form me into a young man. From there, I played at Vista High School where we were CIF champions two years in a row and then the University of Portland.”
At this point, Luna is unsure about what his Sockers role will be other than to play somewhere in the midfield, but the fact that Salvagio made Luna one of his first signees speaks volumes about his potential impact.
While Luna has professional experience it comes entirely from playing the outdoor variety of the game.
“I am new to the indoor game, but I have professional experience. The indoor game is a little bit different, but I am having fun learning it right now. It is a challenge for me. I cannot rely on my skill alone. A person that knows the indoor game has a tremendous advantage. But as I said, it is a challenge and one that is keeping me focused and excited about the game.”
A bigger challenge for the new Sockers management will be restoring the enthusiasm that once existed for this legendary franchise. On Wednesday night they took their first step toward accomplishing that.