By Karlo Sacamos
FREDDY Gonzalez wore the same game face, but with a different uniform this time.
All business from the get-go, the former Pachanga owner and star striker scored in the first half to lift Loyola Meralco past his former team, 1-0, Tuesday night in the United Football League at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill, Taguig.
In his first game since he sold the team to Diliman in the offseason, Gonzalez struck in the 22nd minute off a pass from Phil Younghusband en route to the win and the solo lead for the Sparks in the standings with six points.
“It’s tough,” admitted Gonzalez, who scored his second goal for his new team following their game against Philippine Army last week.
“Normally when I score, I celebrate by doing my backflip and I toned it down a little bit today out of respect for my old team. I didn’t want to rub it in.”
The emotion was understandable as Gonzalez played against the team that he put up after coming out of retirement and led to a Division 2 title last season.
“It’s guys I went to battle with in the second division,” he said. “It’s hard playing against them. But I’m with the Sparks now and I’m playing one hundred percent for Meralco now.”
“The first five minutes, the sentiment was there but after that no more.”
After the pleasantries, Gonzalez readily went to work and combined with Youghusband to score the lone goal that mattered.
“It was a great pass from Phil,” Gonzalez said. “The Pachanga defense was giving me a lot of space and I needed those through passes and that was probably the best one of the game. Thankfully I was able to finish.”
The Sparks’ play, though, dwindled a bit in the second half to the dismay of coach Vince Santos.
“I think we did better in the first half actually,” he said. “We missed some open goals there. We just made it more difficult for us to seal the win in the end. But I think we did enough.
“I’m disappointed with the way we finished but we’ll take the three points.”