In the second edition of our “Catching Up With” feature, we speak to former Pumas standout forward Miguel Gonzalez who is now excelling with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks this 2015 USL season.
While his prolific scoring record so far this campaign has thrust him into the national USL spotlight, it hasn’t always been a glamorous road for the dynamic striker.
Following his humble upbringing in Yelm, a small town in Western Washington, Gonzalez was unsure if he would even go on to play soccer at the collegiate level. However, with the help of scholarships he was able to attend Peninsula Community College where he would go on to set both single-season (34) and career scoring records for goals (49) resulting in him being named the NWAACC West Division MVP both seasons.
His outstanding play at the junior college level allowed him to transfer to play at Seattle University, a respected Division 1 program, where he continued to receive recognition for his outstanding play by being named to the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) All-Tournament team, First team All-Conference and even WAC Offensive Player of the Year.
Gonzalez’s hard work and dedication to pursuing his passion continued to pay-off as his exceptional play on the field quickly caught the eye of the Kitsap Pumas coaching staff, where he would ultimately sign his first professional contract.
“Andrew Chapman knew Miguel extremely well from their time together at Peninsula College. We knew Miguel was destined to play at a higher level than the PDL but we believed a season with the Pumas would give him the exposure required to get to that level” said the Head Coach of the Pumas Cameron MacDonald.
The Pumas, one of the top Premier Development League clubs in the nation, consistently develop young talented players to go on to play at higher levels around the country and even the world. Gonzalez, with his 6 goals and 2 assists, spearheaded the attack that helped lead the Pumas to a Northwest Divisional title, a Western Conference title and an appearance in the PDL national final in 2014.
“My time at Kitsap was great,” recalled Gonzalez. “We had a great group of guys who were excellent players also, not to mention a great community of supporters that were always there for us. The trainings were always intense and very competitive which gave me the chance to learn a lot and be better prepared for the next level.”
Following his year with the Pumas Gonzalez was signed last winter by the newly founded Colorado Springs Switchbacks, who are in their inaugural season in the USL.
“Ever since I was a kid soccer has been my biggest passion,” said Gonzalez. “I have been slowly climbing the ladder over the past few years and I believe each place I have played at has helped me grow to be the player I am now.”
Since joining the Switchbacks Gonzalez’s lush scoring record has helped lead his club to a record of 12-9-3 placing them thick in the hunt for a USL Western Conference title.
“I love it here with the Switchbacks,” said Gonzalez. “We have a similar team chemistry to what we had in Kitsap. We all get along great and I think that really shows in the games. We are having a great season and I just hope that I can continue to contribute to our club’s success.”
Gonzalez has wasted no time in rising to the new challenge of playing at a higher level just as he has done at each step thus far. He is currently sixth on his entire team in minutes, already scored 9 goals including 2 game-winners and created 6 assists for the Switchbacks in 22 appearances, which impressively puts him ninth on the list in points for the entire USL.
“It’s always pleasing to see a player you have worked with excel at a higher level and if Miguel continues to work hard each day on and off the field, then theres no telling how far he could go in the game,” said MacDonald.