by John Philip Wyllie
When the league leading 5-1 San Diego Sockers return to the Sports Arena this weekend for a pair of back to back matches, they will be expecting offensive help from an unlikely source: the usually defensive-minded Mauricio Alegre. Alegre is a native of Mexico City and has resided in Tijuana for the last 17 years. He is one of only three players on the current Sockers roster that has ties to the team which operated at the Sports Arena from 1980 until 1996.
Alegre's recent scoring binge of five goals and two assists in six games is one of the reasons the current Sockers are beginning to resemble the dominant teams that played under the Sockers banner during the past two decades.
"The (old and new Sockers) are similar in that both teams
have a lot of good players," Alegre said in a telephone interview
from the home he shares with teammate, Shawn Beyer. "Everybody
is playing well and enjoying the friendship within the team. I
think that is very important." He is delighted to be resuming
his indoor career under the same person that coached the last
incarnation of the Sockers, Brian Quinn.
"Mauricio is a vital cog within the team in terms of keeping
the flow always in our
favor," says Quinn. "He does a lot of the ball-winning and the grunt work for us so he doesn't often get noticed, but he is invaluable to us." Alegre's ability to find the net in recent weeks is raising his profile from an always hustling, ball-hawking defensive midfielder to a bonafide scoring threat. His six game totals find him tied for third place within the team for goals and tied for fourth in overall points with seven. Alegre however, is more pleased with the team's success than he is with his own personal
While he still regards his responsibilities within the team as primarily defensive, Alegre intends to help out on the attack whenever he can. "I really don't care that much if I score, only that the team wins. That is the important thing," Alegre says.
Off the field, he hopes to do what he can to help the Sockers become winners at the box office as well as on the field. His connections with the community in Tijuana and his cheerful and friendly personality will be an asset there. His ability to converse in both Spanish and English will be an added bonus.
With the Sockers comfortably ahead in the five-team WISL race, and the team averaging close to seven goals per game, their should be plenty of excitement at the Sports Arena this weekend. Saturday's 7:05 p.m. match against the struggling Sacramento Knights will feature a half-time exhibition between several former Sock-er stars and members of the San Diego Spirit. Sunday evening's earlier 5:05 p.m. kickoff versus the third place Utah Freezz is designed for people who have to head off to work or school Monday morning. Tickets for both games are available at the door.