The Monterrey Flash are a peculiar sort of defending champions. After winning the Newman Cup in 2015, they abdicated the throne and went into a two year stasis. Armed with a strong reassembled core and some upgrades, the Flash returned to the MASL as our preseason picks to take this year’s Newman Cup trophy. The Flash have not disappointed, leading the Southwest Division was a 6-0 record.
We caught up with Flash President Gerardo Guerra Lozano, Head Coach Mariano Bollella, and veteran forward Carlos “Chile” Farias after their 10-5 win over the Harrisburg Heat Sunday afternoon at the Farm Show Arena.
Turf and Boards: Why did the Flash leave the MASL, what were you doing the last two years, and how were you able to finally bring the team back?
Monterrey Flash President, Gerardo Guerra Lozano: In the two years we didn’t play, we kept in touch with the media, with fans, made tournaments with young people, and worked to come back into the league, and the owners of the Flash saw that the league is growing up. It’s much better, and it’s working in the way that we would like it to. Two years ago we didn’t see that. Two years ago the league wanted to split. That was one of the reasons. Right now we have the goal of being champions again. We did a team with mostly Mexican players with two ex-stars of outdoor soccer and next week we will have a very good surprise. Next week we are going to announce a good player, a star player. Right now we’re very happy. I look at the league, I see the teams all can win. All of the teams are good, they have good players and we are very happy to be back.
Turf and Boards: Are you surprised at how quickly the Flash have returned to being one of the elite teams in the MASL?
Gerardo Guerra Lozano: We are working to be there, to be in the first place of the league. I know Milwaukee and San Diego are undefeated and next month we are going to play against them in Monterrey, so January we will see how our team does against those two.
Turf and Boards: Has there been some hesitation from the fan base to embrace the team again after the hiatus and so many iterations of Monterrey teams, from the original La Raza to the current Flash?
Gerardo Guerra Lozano: It’s hard to explain to the fans why we made that decision, but some of them understand that it’s for business. Sometimes in business you have to be cold. The numbers are there, so it’s difficult to explain that to the media, but they understand. When you are transparent, they believe in us and hopefully next month and in February and in the playoffs we’ll have more people in the arena supporting us.
Turf and Boards: Mariano, what is your assessment of this weekend’s two road wins after a 20-day layoff?
Monterrey Flash Head Coach Mariano Bollella: We were happy about it because playing back to back games is difficult after we were off for three weeks so we’ve got to get the rhythm of the game and the first game (Saturday) the field was too slippery and we didn’t play well with the ball on the field but I think in the end we played together, we played great defense. The team is working good and we’re happy because things are going well.
Turf and Boards: The Flash are near the top of the league defensively. Is that a focus for you?
Mariano Bollella: No, sometimes I say to the guys, ‘Hey we play good defense but sometimes we play too much defense,’ and we’re not creating anything. It’s OK sometimes you drop back and stay safe, but you gotta play forward because the team is much better with the ball and you have space, but I think we have a team that’s really fast, we have good breakaways, we have players that can just score a goal from nothing, so we have a pretty balanced team.
Turf and Boards: Why did you alternate your goalkeepers each quarter today, were you just trying to get some playing time for Juan De Dios Ibarra?
Mariano Bollella: We played both goalies because both I think are really good. Ibarra is a guy who played First Division in Mexico. He has all this experience, but a lot of pressure (adapting to the indoor game), but he came out and played well . We’re happy that we have two goalies and can play anybody.
Turf and Boards: What does your schedule look like for the next week, playing the back end of four games in nine days?
Mariano Bollella: We’re back (in Monterrey) Monday, we’re going to practice Tuesday, we fly Wednesday and then we’re going to play Thursday in El Paso, then after that we play El Paso Sunday at home.
Turf and Boards: How did you keep the team sharp during the 20-day break in the schedule?
Mariano Bollella: We try to keep our fitness going and the rhythm of the game, but if you don’t play games it’s difficult to find it until you start playing, but I think out practice was really good, We keep the pace up all the time. We don’t give any day off, so we work hard, but it takes a lot away like technique, speed of the game and rhythm if you don’t play, so (this weekend) was good for us.
Turf and Boards: Has your 6-0 start exceeded your expectations?
Mariano Bollella: To be honest when we talked to Gerardo we said we were going to put a great team together, bringing everybody we brought back and we have so many new players. It’s not the same team and the team that won the championship was almost three years ago so it’s so hard to put it back again but it looks like we’re doing a good job. The players listen to me. We are a good team and that’s what we show on the field
Turf and Boards: Chile, you are 41, but you are reunited with Mariano Bollella and lead the team in scoring, What is your youthful secret?
Monterrey Flash Forward Carlos “Chile” Farias: It’s not that I feel young. I love the game and I want to play til my legs cannot even move. I don’t care about stats. If the team wins it doesn’t matter who scored the goals. Everybody has to do something for the team to get the wins.
Turf and Boards: You seem to have a special relationship with Mariano. You were teammates a couple times and you have played for him in Monterrey, Oxford City, and now Monterrey again.
Chile Farias: I played in Indianapolis and San Diego when he was playing there. From there we got a good friendship and then he was a coach and I played for him and won a championship in Monterrey. We have a friendship but it’s separate, you know, I have to respect him as a coach, so I have to do my job on the field
Turf and Boards: You have famously played for around 20 teams, including multiple tours in San Diego, Harrisburg, Chicago, Wichita, and Monterrey.
Chile Farias: I play for 20 teams, you know why? All the teams fold. All those teams everybody mentions, 10 teams folded, so it’s my fault? I wanted to play for a good organization and stay there and play, but teams fold, what do you want me to do?
Turf and Boards: Does this Monterrey team have a chance to be really special?
Chile Farias: The season just started. It’s hard to say this team is going to win because of their record now. Everything can change in a moment. You lose two games in a row, another team can win two and everything can change so we’re taking it a game at a time, get in a rhythm, try to figure out how these players play together, try to get better every time. We’ll see at the end of the season. We’re trying to get the best result that we can so we get home advantage and go from there, but in the playoffs anything can happen.