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WPS Extra Time: Montoya back to coaching on big stage

Giovanni Albanese Extra Time

Less than 12 months ago, there was nothing Albertin Montoya could do wrong. In his second year as the head coach of FC Gold Pride in Women’s Professional Soccer, Montoya guided the San Francisco Bay Area-based club to an impressive 16-3-5 regular season record, running away with first place, before obliterating Philadelphia Independence in the WPS Championship.

Nothing could go wrong.

But then it all did go wrong when the club went belly-up, leaving all those involved looking for work. While the players had come from all over the county and world, Montoya has essentially been a lifelong Bay Area resident, growing up in Mountain View, Calif.; playing his college soccer at Santa Clara University; getting drafted by the San Jose Clash in the 1998 MLS Draft; and coaching stints with Stanford and Santa Clara women’s soccer collegiate clubs, as well as California Storm of the WPSL.

Needless to say, the Bay Area is really all Montoya knows, and he couldn’t leave here much like many of the Gold Pride players have done. Instead, Montoya – who has a wife and two children – continued to put his focus on his hometown’s youth soccer players – boys and girls – as the director of coaching for MVLA (Mountain View, Los Altos) Soccer Club.

Over the years, I’ve received some quality bits of advice. One of them is “continue to do the right thing and better opportunities will find you.” That, certainly, was the case for Montoya when U.S. Soccer called up the coach and offered him the head coaching spot of the U-17 Women’s National Team. It all became official on Monday.

“It has been a dream of mine to be involved with U.S. Soccer since I was a young player myself,” said Montoya in a release by U.S. Soccer. Montoya played for the USA in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Italy in 1991. His first line of business is putting together a club that suits his tactics and aim for a bid into the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan.

“My goal growing up was to play in a youth World Cup and that experience meant a lot to me,” he said. “The experiences I had with our youth national teams helped me become a much better person and coach and to be able to give back to the Federation that gave so much to me is a privilege. I want to make a difference in these kids’ lives like my coaches did for me and now that I have this opportunity, I am very grateful for it.”

It really could not have happened to a better person.

Hear Montoya speak about his new position in this Equalizer Q+A.

What to look for this week

Playoff races all around: Western New York has a game in hand over the Independence as both vie for that all-important regular season title and home field for the WPS Championship. WNY takes on magicJack on the road Wednesday night before hosting the Atlanta Beat Sunday night; Philadelphia concludes its season Sunday in Florida against magicJack.

While WNY and Philly go for first (magicJack firmly holds the third spot), Sky Blue FC and Boston Breakers play each other at Harvard Stadium with the winner taking fourth place and the final spot in the postseason. Kickoff for that match is Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.

Power Rankings

1. Western New York Flash

2. Philadelphia Independence

3. magicJack

4. Sky Blue FC

5. Boston Breakers

6. Atlanta Beat

Player of the Week

Abby Wambach, magicJack. The veteran U.S. international has put her club on her back – not only in the playing capacity, but in the coaching side too. In two home wins last week over clubs pursuing those last two playoff spots – 3-2 vs. Sky Blue FC; 2-0 vs. Boston – Wambach tallied four goals. Wambach helped clinch third for magicJack and a home match against whoever survives the Sky Blue-Boston bout.

Quote of the Week

“Right now, it’s almost impossible to mark Abby Wambach.”

– A quotacious piece of gold courtesy of Breakers coach Tony DiCicco after he watched Wambach bury two goals and his team 2-0 on their home field.

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