by John Philip Wyllie
Prior to the current WISL indoor soccer season, one of the biggest problems facing San Diego Sockers coach Brian Quinn was in developing a team that could live up to the legendary reputation created by the old Sockers franchise. Perennial champions of any league they played in, the old Sockers captured an amazing 10 national indoor championships by the time they folded following the 1996 season.
Building a team from scratch that could live up to the sky-high expectations of any team calling itself the Sockers would seem a daunting challenge. But after a highly successful road trip which saw the Sockers go 3-1, Quinn will bring his team back to the Sports Arena atop the WISL standings for Saturday evening's 7:05 kickoff.
Quinn's keen eye for talent is returning early dividends. Over the first four games, the Sockers have averaged an impressive seven goals per game.
Listed among the team's leading scorers is Mauricio Alegre with three goals and an assist. If the name sounds familiar, it should. Alegre, who hails from Mexico City, was a mainstay of the A-League's San Diego Flash for several seasons. But he is far from a one-man team.
Brazilian Renato Pereira is leading the attack with six goals and two assists. Another familiar face, that of former Flash star Carlos Farias, is tied with Mariano Bollella for second place in overall points with six.
"We are going to have a good team, there is no doubt about that," an enthusiastic Quinn said following a recent practice. "We've got (last year's) MVP of the league (Mariano Bollella) and the captain of last year's championship team (Alejandro Cardenas) and a lot of talented younger players."
Scanning the list of countries represented by the players on the Sockers roster makes one think that he is instead reading from a list of United Nations delegates. The Sockers list seven players and two coaches born on foreign shores as close as Mexico and as far away as Hungary. Quinn's job will be melding such a diverse group into a cohesive unit. But judging from their early success, the Sockers seem to have breached the language and cultural barriers that separate them.
Quinn is actually more concerned about how the Sockers will do at the box office than he is about how they will do in the standings. "The challenge," he says, "will be putting people in the stands." He will be counting on some old teammates to help him with that.
"There are so many ex-Sockers now living in the community that want to lend support. Waad Hirmez, Cha Cha Namdar, Julie Veee and Jean Willrich are just a few that are living and coaching in the area. We are going to tap into that." Quinn also hopes that the many players and coaches that have benefited from the clinics the Sockers have hosted over the last six months will turn into regular Sockers fans.