By John Philip Wyllie
Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, the San Diego Sockers have reemerged in San Diego. Though the team will don their traditional blue and gold uniforms when their indoor season kicks off in mid-August, it might have been more appropriate if they had selected Tricolores green, white and red as the team's colors.
San Diego Sockers legend Brian Quinn, who returns for his second stint at the helm of the team he once starred for, has assembled a squad which includes six Mexican players and a half dozen more of Mexican-American heritage. One of the players he is the most excited about is former UNAM Pumas midfielder, Alejandro Cardenas.
"I'm absolutely thrilled that we were fortunate enough to acquire Alejandro," Quinn said following Monday's preseason training session. He had to do some wheeling and dealing in order to gain the rights to the crafty midfielder, but he feels the deal he cut with the Sacramento Knights, will benefit the Sockers in a major way. "You are very lucky when you can find a player like him, first from an ability standpoint, but also in terms of his leadership and with the intangibles that he brings to the team."
At the moment, Cardenas and his Sockers teammates are focusing on conditioning and building the team into a cohesive unit. In this case, creating a team from scratch might not be as hard as imagined.
"We have a lot of talent and some great young players on this team," explains Cardenas. On the Sockers, he will be reunited with two of his teammates from last year's World Indoor Soccer League's Championship team. "League MVP, Mariano Bollella played with me in Monterrey last year and so did Renato Pereira." Pereira led the team in scoring (with 25 goals and 11 assists).
"Right now we are trying to understand what the coach wants and to be more focused on the field," said Cardenas. That can sometimes be a challenge with half of the team predominantly Spanish speaking while the other half speaks mostly English. Cardenas, who is fluent in both languages, is often prevailed upon to be the team interpreter.
"Sometimes I have to explain things like (the finer points of) power plays and free kicks when the guys that don't speak very good English don't understand. I'm part of the team, so if I can help, I want to do it," Cardenas says. Usually however, the language barrier doesn't pose much of a problem. "The game of soccer is spoken in the same language," according to Cardenas.
While he knows he will never become rich playing indoor soccer, Cardenas has no complaints. "Growing up in Mexico, I have been playing for a long time. I don't know how many more years I can play," says Cardenas who at 33 reckons he has about two or three more good seasons ahead of him. "I want to take advantage of this (opportunity) and I want to help this team by playing hard. I always playing for the "W." That is the only way you find success in your life."
The Sockers open their twelve game home schedule at the Sports Arena on Sept. 8 after a four game stint on the road which begins on Aug. 18. Tickets (858) 836-GOAL