Sunday, June 01, 2008
Ex-Lobo Can Only Watch
By Glen Rosales
For the Journal
All Lance Watson could do was watch his Kansas City teammates as they faced Club Social y Deportivo Municipal of Guatemala.
In a spirited friendly Saturday at University Stadium, the Wizards of Major League Soccer used a 2-0 victory to improve its record in international exhibitions to 1-1.
Ivan Trujillo headed home two crosses in the first half to provide all the game’s scoring, connecting in the 31st and 37th minutes in front of an announced crowd of 2,642 fans. The feeds easily could have been delivered by Watson, a former University of New Mexico star who has made a living with his playmaking abilities out of the midfield. He helped lead the Lobos to the NCAA championship game as a senior in 2005.
On this night, however, all he could do was support his teammates while making a brief homecoming as he continues his recovery from a fractured right foot.
“Usually when I’m back in Albuquerque, I’m playing soccer,” Watson said during a brief visit to the pressbox. “It’s a little tough seeing the team out there without me.”
Watson was injured in a preseason game in Argentina, ruining what could have been a breakout season in his third year with Kansas City.
He recently started jogging and he’s expected to be back training in two weeks.
“It’s halfway through the season,” Watson said. “I’ll do what I can to get back in the lineup. I’ll do whatever I can to help the team.”
Watson has had an checkered MLS career thus far, earning four starts as a rookie before playing just 23 minutes last season.
“It’s been kind of up and down so far,” he said. “My first year, I played a lot. Last year, I didn’t get as much playing time.”
Of the five Lobos drafted in 2006, however, Watson is the only one still making a living in the league.
“In the MLS, there’s much better athletes than in college,” he said. “Every one of the guys out there are used to playing at a high level athletically.”
There are two other Lobos in the MLS from that national runner-up team in rookie goalkeeper Michael Graczyk and second-year defender Andrew Boyens.
And Watson has two current teammates who share some unpleasant recollections from that 2005 season.
Kansas City goalkeeper Eric Kronberg, who made several big saves Saturday, and defender Tyson Wahl were both a part of the California team that New Mexico beat in overtime in the round of eight as the Lobos eventually advanced to the championship game.
“As soon as they landed, I got some text messages about how they had some unfortunate memories of Albuquerque,” Watson said, a smile creasing his face.
Played before a sold-out and enthusiastic crowd, the participants of that overtime match still talk about that game, he said.
“I haven’t played in another game since that’s matched that atmosphere,” Watson said.
And that includes games he’s played in soccer hotbeds like Argentina and Germany.
Saturday’s game had a little fiestiness of its own as the head coaches briefly jawed back and forth, and there was a brief fracas as the play got a little heated in the second half.
“There’s some atmosphere for you,” Watson said as he ducked out of the press box and headed back to the sidelines.