By John Philip Wyllie
When Mexico squares off against
the United States on January 12 in women's soccer, the Tricolores
American-born goalie, Linnea Quinones will be playing in one of
the most important games of her career. For the 21 year old SDSU
student, that is quite a statement. Especially considering that
she once played before a packed house in Giants Stadium during
the '99 Women's World Cup.
While Quinones has battled against Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain and the rest of the World Cup champions on several occasions, this time she has a lot more riding on the game: her future. With her four year career at San Diego State now behind her, Quinones' best opportunity to continue playing top level soccer would be by tending goal for one of the eight WUSA clubs. With most of these teams already equipped with two or in some cases three seasoned goaltenders, Quinones faces on uphill climb. A strong performance in Satur-day's nationally televised match, (ESPN2 at 4:00 p.m.) would give her chances a much needed boost.
"I'm hoping that I have a good game and that the team plays well," said Quinones prior to departing for Charleston, South Carolina on January 4 for some pre-game training. "Hopefully, after they see me play, I will have a little bit better chance. "I'm hoping they will consider that I'm still young, that I have just come out of college and that I have played internationally at the highest level for the last three and a half years."
Quinones is realistic about her chances of securing one of the few highly coveted WUSA positions. Undaunted, she intends to pursue her dream. "Anything is possible," she says. "I hope to land somewhere where I can at least be the second string backup, but if that doesn't happen, I'll just keep training and try again next year." Eventually, the league plans to expand. More teams will create more opportunity.
If Quinones is successful in her bid, she will not be the first Mexican national team player to join the fledgling league. Teammates Monica Gerardo, Lisa Nanez and Gina Oceguera represented three of the eight WUSA teams in their inaugural seasons. Gerardo offered Quinones some words of advice and encouragement during their last conversation.
"Monica is living in Washington DC and loving it," Quinones said. "She told me that it is very intense, very time consuming and that it requires a lot of hard work. She also said to arrive in good shape and be prepared to work hard."
Quinones will learn her fate on February 11. That is when the WUSA will conduct its second annual collegiate draft. The week before, many of the nation's top prospects will converge on Fort Lauderdale, Florida where they will display their skills in a series of drills and scrimmages that Quinones likens to collegiate football's Senior Bowl. When she returns from playing in South Carolina, she hopes to find an invitation to the player's combine awaiting her.