ALSO ON SLAM!
Thursday, December 16, 1999
Teen dreams of sunny Mexico
By about the middle of January most winters, a Mexican escape would be just what the doctor ordered in the minds of most Edmontonians.
An Edmonton Drillers midfielder could be one of the lucky few to escape the snow and cold of northern Alberta early in the new year.
If everything pans out, the 19-year-old Alfredo Valente should be enjoying an all-expense-paid tour of Mexico courtesy of the Canadian Soccer Association.
Canada's under-23 Olympic side is tentatively scheduled to tour Mexico Jan. 23 to Feb. 5. The Vancouver-born Valente figures prominently in the Olympic team talent pool and is a good bet to go with the Canadian side.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for me," said Valente, who has been a scratch for each of the Drill's last two home games.
"I'm the youngest guy. Most of the guys are 21 or 22, so my chances of making the team are going to be hard. I'm just happy to go and get a chance to make the team."
Should the five-foot-six, 150-pounder be selected to tour with the Canadians, it will be his third trip to the international stage.
Valente was seconded by Canada's under-18 side for a tournament in Italy last March and was recruited to suit up with Canada's Pan-Am Games squad.
Assuming the Drill are still playing .800 soccer in mid-January, parting with Valente - who has a two-point goal in six starts this season - won't be a major hardship.
Even if it were, the NPSL club really doesn't have many options.
"It's a CSA requirement and we're in support of it, more so than perhaps some of the other NPSL teams might be," explained Drill general manager Ron Knol.
"It's also a FIFA rule ... We followed it with Nikola Vignjevic for different (international) events last year.
"It's what pro sport is supposed to be doing throughout and that is assisting in the growth of national and amateur programs.
"I'm sure he was brought on with the full knowledge that he may be required for some games in January, I think it is ... we're not going to stand in his way."
NO TRADE MENACE? The Detroit Rockers are still trying to unload high-scoring forward Dennis "The Menace" Brose. Brose no longer fits into the Rockers' plans and is drawing a cheque for sitting at home in suburban Detroit.
"I haven't heard anything about it in a few weeks, so I'm assuming it's dead in the water," said Knol.
Given the Drill's already strained budget, any deal for Brose which would increase the team's payroll is highly unlikely.
"We have our 16-man roster and our budget is set for the year and I can't see how it can be done," Knol surmised.
Rockers' director of player personnel Bryan Finnerty confirmed the teams discussed Brose two and a half weeks ago. However, Finnerty says the immediate prospect of any deal that would see Brose in a Drillers uniform is improbable.
"There's not a whole lot shaking," said Finnerty, who doubles as Detroit's starting goalkeeper. "If we're going to do anything we'd certainly like to have Martin Nash and Chris Clarke.
Both Nash, the NPSL's rookie of the year last season, and Clarke are currently playing in Europe. Nash has made it clear he's not interested in playing indoor soccer at this point in his career.
BLIZZARD BITS: Buffalo's leading scorer Doug Miller figured to be out of action for up to four weeks with an ankle injury. However, word is Miller, who led the Blizzard in scoring with 194 points last season and finished a point back of Hector Marinaro in the NPSL scoring race, will be back on the turf at Skyreach Centre tonight (7:05). The 30-year-old Miller had 35 points in nine games before the injury ... Buffalo is 1-4 on the road this season, with the lone win coming Nov. 27 in Philadelphia. That night, the Blizzard shaded their hosts 6-4 in OT.