By John Philip Wyllie
While the Washington Freedom’s Monica Gerardo remains the most successful of the handful of Mexican-American women starring in the WUSA women’s professional soccer league, her Mexican national Team teammate, Monica Gonzales, is closing fast on her heels.
Gonzales dropped in on the San Diego Spirit last Saturday starting in the midfield for her club team, the Boston Breakers. And while the Breakers ended up on the short end of a 5-4 score, Gonzales spoke positively about this, her rookie season and the Women’s World Cup qualifiers that will follow it. She feels participating in a league along side the world’s best female players will be of benefit both to herself and to the Mexican national team as a whole.
“Here (on the Boston Breakers) I’m new,” Gonzales said in a post-game interview. “I’m still learning how the system works and how to cope with such a long season. Obviously, here there is a higher level of play than there is on the Mexican team,” she said explaining the differences. “Even though I am young, on Mexico’s team I am one of the veterans. There, I am trying to pull the other girls up.”
Gonzales was part of the historic 1999 Mexican Women’s World Cup team that was the first to ever represent Mexico in the prestigious international tournament. She and her Mexican teammates have their sights set on returning to the fall 2003 World Cup that will be held this time in China. First however, they will have to gain admission.
“We’ve got the World Cup qualifiers coming up for Mexico in October and I think we’ll be in the national team camp as soon as the WUSA season is over,” Gonzales said. “ I’m excited about it.” The United States is expected to easily qualify. To join them, Mexico will have to either beat the Football Confederation’s number two team and qualify directly, or beat a South American runner-up like they did in ’99 when they edged Argentina. Gonzales hopes that the training the five Mexican national team players involved in the league are receiving will increase Mexico’s chances for success.
“Here the level is so high that I have to fight for my position every single day in practice,” Gonzales explained. “I’ve been learning how to maintain that (vital) intensity in those practices so, even when I’m not starting, I’m getting better as a player.”
In each of the last three games, Gonzales has earned a starting berth. She has appeared in nine WUSA matches overall this year, only three less than Gerardo. Gonzales is looking forward to teaming up with Gerardo as well as the other WUSA players Linnea Quinones, Gina Oceguera Eagleson and Lisa Nanez when Mexico battles the U.S. at the Rose Bowl in Gold Cup competition on October 27.