May 28, 2004 CPSL news story on Brampton Hitmen (from Brampton Guardian)

Hitmen go international with Mexican players

ROBIN INSCOE, Sports Editor

The Brampton Hitmen are back-- and ready to defend the Canadian Professional Soccer League crown they wrestled away from league rivals last season.

The Hitmen, who stunned the league with their sudden rise to the top of theleague, aren't resting on their laurels either.

The local squad, who play home games at Victoria Park Stadium, have bolstered their lineup with three young recruits from Mexico.

The Hitmen have come to terms with Deportivo Cruz Azul, one of the topMexican professional clubs, to train three of their young prospects this season.

The Hitmen have added Gustavo Mucino, a 23-year-old midfielder or sweeper, 19-year-old Angel Valazquez, a midfielder and stopper Jorge Romero Lopez, 22, to help them defend their championship crown.

The trio landed in Canada recently and are busy preparing for the seasonwith optimism, even though none of them speak English.

"I think this will be a good experience," said Valazquez, through interpreter Hector Marinaro. "When I go back to Mexico I'll be seen as an international player."

"We're coming here to reinforce the Brampton Hitmen," added Romero Lopez.

"They won last year and we want to repeat."

Hitmen coach Steve Nijjar feels the move to bring the 'Three Amigos' to Brampton has been positive.

"All the players have reacted well," said Nijjar. "It shows our players that we are going beyond the borders of Ontario in our search for players. It tells them that the big clubs can trust us with their talent."

All three newcomers feel that the experience in Canada will help them withtheir development-- something that Deportivo Cruz Azul obviously feels willhappen.

"You have to play faster, stronger," said Mucino.

"There is more running in the game up here. In Mexico, it's a more control game. I hope to get morephysically conditioned." Valazquez concurred.

"I hope to be more versatile," admitted Valazquez. "In Mexico the game ismore tactical."

All three are chomping at the bit, waiting for the season to begin.

But they won't have to wait much longer.

The Hitmen kick off the season on Sunday evening at Victoria Park Stadium against St. Catharines Roma at 7:30 p.m.

"We're ready to show the difference between the Brampton Hitmen and the other teams," said Mucino.

"I want to see the way the other teams play." added Romero Lopez.

"We're being looked at as a good development team," noted Nijjar, who has three house guests this summer.

"It's up to us to make sure they improve."

Nijjar is hopeful that the Hitmen may be able to reciprocate at the end of the year, sending some of their players to Mexico to train.

"Their brass will be here in mid-July to assess things," admitted Nijjar.

So far, the trio have been impressed by what they have seen, in particular the skill level of some of the returning veterans like Alvaro Yaquez and Adolfo Mella.

In addition to playing for the Hitmen, the youngsters will also teach at the Hitmen Soccer School this summer.

While communication on the field is fine, with six or seven teammates speaking Spanish.

Off the field is another matter.

"We've all bought Spanish/English dictionaries," smiled Nijjar, pulling onefrom his pocket.

"They definitely bring a different element of the game to our team."

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