By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
PORTALES — Harold Munoz has a pretty good idea of what to expect with the Eastern New Mexico University soccer program.
Munoz, a graduate assistant during the first two years of the program’s existence (2004-05), was named to the head coaching position on Monday — slightly more than a week before the team reports for preseason drills.
He replaces Carlos Elizondo, who took a position as director of coaching for Jackson Hole (Wyo.) Youth soccer earlier this summer. The Greyhounds went 8-9-1 in 2007, including 2-5-1 in the Southwest Soccer Conference.
“We’re extremely fortunate to have someone whose familiar with Eastern and the Southwest Soccer Conference,” ENMU athletic director Mike Maguire said. “I think he’ll relate really well to the team.
“Both of our (former) coaches (Elizondo and women’s coach Travis McCorkle) thought really well of him.”
A native of Bogota, Columbia, the 30-year-old Munoz spent the last two years at Midland Lutheran, an NAIA school in Fremont, Neb. He was the associate head coach for women’s soccer in 2006 before taking over as head coach last fall.
“I’m looking forward to working with the men,” Munoz said. “There’s about four or five guys that I actually recruited that are still here.”
Munoz, whose family moved to Canada when he was 9 years old, said he wants to play a South American style of game — relying on short passes.
He’s familiar with the conference, and knows success there goes through Midwestern State and West Texas A&M.
“They’re the equivalent of (Spanish powerhouses) Real Madrid and Barcelona,” Munoz said. “Hopefully, we can be a team like Villareal. That’s a team that doesn’t have a lot of superstars, but managed to finish second this year in Spain.”
Elizondo had already put most of his team for this season, and Munoz has kept in contact with him.
“From what he tells me, it sounds like it’s going to be a great team,” Munoz said.
Munoz said he’s ready to get started.
“I’m looking forward to the season,” he said. “I think it’ll be very exciting. Hopefully, we can get everybody going in the same direction.”