John Philip Wyllie
Good luck trying to find a ticket for this weekend's sold out San Diego Spirit soccer match at USD's Torero Stadium.
With Mia Hamm scheduled to make her San Diego debut on behalf of the league leading 2-0 Washington Freedom, the last remaining tickets were snatched up earlier this week. Soccer fans without tickets will have to be satisfied tuning in on T.V.'s Cable 4 at 7:00 p.m. Saturday night. That's when the woman who is often billed as the planet's greatest female soccer player will attempt to light up the scoreboard and add to her phenomenal goal scoring statistics at the expense of the hometown San Diego Spirit. As good as she is however, Hamm can't do it alone. One of the players she is likely to receive help from is Mexican-American international Monica Gerardo.
Following a brilliant career at Notre Dame which saw her become the school's second all-time scoring leader (behind the Spirit's Jen Streiffer Mascaro), Gerardo capitalized on her dual-citizenship and played a key role on Mexico's first ever Women's World Cup team in 1999. Still an active member of Mexico's national team, Gerardo is currently honing her skills in what is undoubtedly the best women's soccer league in the world. Should the improved competition raise her game to the standard she expects, Mexico will also benefit.
"I think Mexico will be holding some camps (in the next few months), but I don't think they plan on bringing any of us in until after our league play ends in August.," said Gerardo at the preseason league training camp held at Chula Vista's Arco Olympic Training Center. So at least until August, Gerardo will put her national team duties on the back burner and focus more on gaining playing time with Washington.
Having grown up in nearby Corona, California, Saturday's game here will take on special importance for the the 24 year old striker and midfielder. In addition to the various friends and family that will be making the trek southward to see her play, Gerardo will no doubt enjoy an on the field reunion with a couple of former Fighting Irish teammates that now play for San Diego.
Midfielders Shannon Boxx and the aforementioned Mascaro were teammates of Gerardo on Notre Dame's `95 NCAA championship team. The unity they enjoyed while in college will be all but forgotten however, once they line up against each other Saturday night. Not one to trash talk, Gerardo simply says, "it will be fun to play against my old teammates. There will always be a little added competition, but then there is always going to be somebody that you know on the other team from the national teams, college, or club soccer, so there is a bit of a rivalry no matter who we are playing."