- Category: Sports
- Published on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 20:11
- Written by Rick Olivares / Columnist
THE United Football League has always been seen as a fresh start—teams reload taking note of what they need to plug in and improve on after the UFL Cup.
And more so now with the ascension of Stallion as a proper power in Philippine club football. And if there’s any one player in need of that fresh start, it is Freddy Gonzalez.
The former Pachanga striker who went through a trying last few months of 2012 where he sold his club to the owners of Diliman struggled during the Cup.
With new teammates—his Division II champions were scattered across the UFL landscape from Loyola to Pasargad to Sta. Lucia—and a new system, Gonzalez failed to find the back of the net in all games. From his incredible spree of 34 when Pachanga ruled Division II during the 2012 season, Gonzalez netted zero in the 2012 Cup.
“The move wasn’t about the coaching staff, players, or the management,” said Gonzalez. “I wanted a new challenge and I feel I’ve done all I could for Pachanga. It was time to move on. It was hard leaving but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play with James and Phil Younghusband, Mark Hartmann, Chad Gould, Jake Morallo and the others.”
The addition of Gonzalez to the Sparks’ lineup somewhat buffers the loss of midfielder Anto Gonzales, who returned to Pachanga-Diliman after being loaned out for a year to Loyola. Gonzales provided solid leadership and play for Loyola and was inspirational during the Sparks’ campaign where he also doubled as an alternative team captain.
The Sparks hope to use either Korean Jang Jowon, Italian David Cortina or Simon Greatwich in Gonzales’s old role. Cortina will be returning to action after a lengthy injury kept him out of the last Cup.
As for Gonzalez, he will provide the much-needed presence up-front alongside Phil Younghusband, who had difficulty navigating the double or triple teams thrown at him after his record scoring year in 2012 where he tallied 23 goals.
During the 2012 season, Loyola led for much of the tournament but a late slide saw them tumble to a disappointing third place. The Sparks were runners-up to Air Force in the 2011 Cup and finished fourth in the 2012 Singapore Cup. The club also finished third in the recently concluded UFL Cup.
In other developments, former national player and Loyola assistant coach Vincent Santos took over the head coaching duties from Korean Kim Chul-so.