CARLOS MUNOZ HAS PROVIDED AN EXTRA KICK FOR WAVE
Milwaukee already had reigning MISL rookie of the year Luan Oliveira when the Wave added Carlos Munoz, who finished second to Oliveira in the voting last season.
"Somebody told me one day, Michael Jordan doesn't walk around saying he's Michael Jordan," Munoz said. "So I don't want to say I should've won it. But it was tough. Luan was a good player and I'm happy now I'm sharing the same field with him."
So is anyone associated with the Wave (4-1), which hosts St. Louis (2-4) at 6 p.m. Saturday in its first game since a 15-6 loss at Missouri Dec. 13.
The 26-year-old Munoz, a 5-foot-11 forward, signed with Milwaukee in the off-season because Chicago, his former team, dropped out of the MISL.
"The day I heard Chicago wasn't going to return and all their players became free agents, I called him immediately," Milwaukee coach Keith Tozer said, "and signed him within two or three days.
"Like any sport, hockey, basketball, football, there's just guys who are scorers. They have a God-given gift, a knack, whatever word you want to use."
Munoz was born in New Jersey, but his family moved to Uruguay about two months later. His father, mother and brother returned when he was 15 to live in Houston.
"It was different," Munoz said. "I didn't know the language, the culture, so everything was new for me. I pretty much had to learn everything again. I had to learn English, make new friends and I had to adapt my life to a new country.
"It was hard in the beginning. The first couple of months I was, not disappointed, but I wasn't happy."
After playing the outdoor game for several years, Munoz made the transition to indoors for the first time last season.
"The big difference is you have to learn to play both ways, offense and defense," Munoz said. "I'm a forward in outdoor, so I don't really have to play defense that much. But indoor, it's like you have to run the entire time for offense and defense."
Munoz finished with 25 goals and eight assists with the Soul — Oliveira totaled 25 goals and 16 assists — and is seventh in the MISL this year with 18 points. He also leads Milwaukee with 3 three-point goals, is second with six goals and third with three assists.
Munoz's best game this season was a seven-point performance in a 12-10 victory against Baltimore on Dec. 7.
His teammate, Marcio Leite, remembers what it was like to have to live up to the hype after a successful first season.
"It was tough the first year to get used to the league," said Leite, who made the all-MISL rookie team in the 2006-'07 season. "But the first year people leave you alone, even if you are a better player. They give you more freedom (on the field) since they don't know you.
"Then the second year you need to adjust a little bit more because teams start double-teaming you. They start knowing your certain moves, so you need to adjust your game a little bit and just be a little smarter. But I think he'll be fine because he's got all the tools to score goals.
"He's one of those guys if you get the ball to him, he's going to score. He works hard during the game, and he's just got to keep doing what he's doing."
Munoz has a great left foot and is young and fast, according to Tozer. But he's still a work in progress.
"Things we were concerned about were his defensive responsibilities," Tozer said. "He still needs some improvement in that area individually and within the team framework. But he's definitely improved.
"He's got an edge about him. If that edge is pointing in the right direction and is used in a positive manner, we like that edge."
Donations sought: The team is asking fans to bring new or used soccer balls and shoes to the Saturday game as well as the Dec. 31 game against Syracuse. The items will be donated to Masaka Integrated Childcare and Advocacy Organization out of Masaka, Uganda.
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