By John Philip Wyllie
Former Notre Dame soccer standout Monica Gonzalez is a player with two teams these days and she wouldn’t have it any other way. The tall central defender/defensive midfielder will be counted on later this spring to help propel Mexico into its second consecutive Women’s World Cup, but at the moment, she is enjoying the success of her club team, the Boston Breakers (3-2-2). Boston played the San Diego Spirit (2-1-3) to a 1-1 draw last weekend and Gonzalez played a key role in holding the Spirit’s offense to a single goal.
“Things are going well and we are playing well, but I think there is a lot we can get better at and that we can continue to improve,” Gonzalez said. Boston and San Diego are considered two of the most improved teams in the WUSA. Both clubs made coaching and major personnel changes in the off-season. Their actions on the field indicate that the overhauls initiated by San Diego’s Omid Namazi and Boston’s Pia Sundhage are working.
“With a new coach often comes an attitude change and a different chemistry and feeling within the team,” Gonzalez said. “Pia defines for each person and each unit exactly what their role will be and I think that has helped us with our confidence.” Gonzalez is also confident that Mexico will qualify for the fourth annual Women’s World Cup one way or another.
The tournament, which was originally scheduled for China in September and October had to be moved out of China due to the SARS epidemic. It appears to be coming back to the United States and will be played approximately within the same time frame.
“I have a brother that lives in China, so I was looking forward to playing the Women’s World Cup over there. It will now be scheduled there in 2007, so I guess I’ll just have to plan on playing in that one as well,” Gonzalez said.
Mexico is currently in camp preparing for the upcoming tournament. They will visit Guatemala and Costa Rica to compete against their Southern neighbors and will host Canada in mid-June.
“(The Canada match) will mark the first time that we’ve had a match of that caliber in Mexico,” Gonzalez said. “(The Breakers) are off that week, so I will be joining them and so will Maribel (Dominguez).” Dominguez, who hails from Mexico City, is currently leading the league in points and goals along with Germany’s Maren Meinert. With the recent retirement of Mexican teammate Monica Gerardo from the Washington Freedom, Gonzalez and Dominguez are the Tricolores standard bearers for the league and the role models that aspiring young Hispanic players can try to emulate.