Ortiz to lead Team Mexico once again in World Minifootball Federation World Cup

Rene Ortiz will serve as head coach of Team Mexico at the upcoming 2019 World Minifootball Federation World Cup in Australia. Courtesy photo

Rene Ortiz remains a soccer icon in South County.

The former Southwest High School standout won three championships with the original San Diego Sockers franchise in the Major Indoor Soccer League. He went on to pursue a highly successful indoor soccer career with other professional clubs across North America before retiring as an active player in 2000.

Hilltop High School physical education teacher Rene Ortiz will head Down Under with Team Mexico in a bid to win a World Cup gold medal. Photo by Phillip Brents

He returned to San Diego to play three seasons with the Sockers in the Continental Soccer League before ending his long and storied soccer career with a two-year stint with the Dallas Burn of Major League Soccer.

He has since turned his attention to coaching, both at the domestic and international levels, with similar results.

He led Marian Catholic High School to the 2002 San Diego Section Division IV boys soccer championship and has since transitioned to Hilltop High School to coach girls soccer.

During that timeline he has served as a head coach in the Major Arena Soccer League with the La Raza de Monterey in 2009 and Athletico Baja in 2016-17.

He joined the Sockers as an assistant coach prior to the 2017-18 MASL season and has served as head coach of the Sockers development team, the Sockers2, in the second division MASL2.

The Sockers2 won the MASL2 championship this past season, defeating the Cuervos Juarez, 7-5, in the final after compiling a perfect 12-0 regular season.

Team Mexico finished runner-up at the 2017 World Minifootball Federation World Cup in Tunisia. Courtesy photo

World class
Ortiz has been head coach of the Mexican indoor soccer national team since 2002.

He coached Team Mexico in the 2015 World Minifootball Federation World Cup. Team Mexico finished runner-up to Team USA in the championship final.

Teams from 12 countries participated in the event that took place in nine cities across the United States from March 21-29.

Team Mexico won Group B with a 3-0 record, defeating Romania, Germany and India with a +45 goal-differential. Mexico defeated India, 33-0, to close out group play.

Mexico defeated El Salvador, 12-0, in the quarterfinals and Brazil, 3-2, in penalties after the teams had played to a 5-5 tie.

Team USA defeated Germany, 9-2, in the quarterfinals and then Romania, 7-3, in the semifinals before edging Mexico, 5-3, in the championship game.

The Sockers’ Kraig Chiles finished as the tournament’s top scorer with 10 goals.

The event, which is organized by the World Minifootball Federation, held the second edition in the tournament series in Nebaul, Tunisia, in 2017 from Oct 6-15.

Teams from 24 countries across five confederations participated. The Czech Republic, USA, Russia, Spain, Senegal, Tunisia, Chile, Hungary, Brazil, Romania, France, Mexico, Libya, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan all advanced to the Round of 16.

Other entrants included Portugal, Iraq, Argentina, Somalia, India, Ivory Coast, Guatemala and Lebanon.

Mexico was in Group B with Chile, Iraq and Hungary.

Mexico finished in first place, beating Iraq and Chile by scores of 2-0 and Hungary 3-1.

The Mexicans gained a measure of revenge by eliminating the United States, 4-3, in overtime in the Round of 16 knockout stage.

Team Mexico went on to defeat Tunisia, 7-0, in the quarterfinals and Senegal, 3-1, in the semifinals to meet the Czech Republic in the championship game.

The Czechs ended Mexico’s playoff run with a 3-0 win in the final.

“I was really proud of the team’s performance,” Ortiz said. “However, I was not fully satisfied with obtaining second place.”

Current Hilltop High School teacher Rene Ortiz is leading Team Mexico on its third Minifootball World Cup odyssey, with a gold medal in sight this time. Courtesy photo

Ortiz and Team Mexico will get another chance to shine at the international level when the third edition of the World Minifootball Federation World Cup lands in Perth, Australia, Oct. 1-11.

This year’s event will be the largest so far in the series with 32 teams entered.

Mexico is in Group E with Somalia, Ivory Coast and Moldova.

The United States is in Group H with Brazil, Argentina and South Africa.

Group play continues through Oct. 6, followed by four rounds of elimination playoffs, beginning Oct. 8.

The Sockers will contribute a massive wave of 14 players to the national teams of the United States, Mexico and Brazil.

All-MASL First Team midfielder Brandon Escoto will lead the fortunes of El Tri in the upcoming tournament after topping the Sockers during the 2018-19 season with 55 points (32 goals, 23 assists).

The Sockers will contribute a total of eight players to Team Mexico’s roster, including midfielder Hiram “Pollo” Ruiz, forward Christian Gutierrez and defenders Cesar Cerda, Guerrero Pino, Ray Contreras, Ismale Rojo and Luis “Pee Wee” Ortega.

Chiles returns to once again lead Team USA’s fortunes along with Sockers teammates Boris Pardo (MASL Goalkeeper of the Year in 2018-19), Brian Farber and two-way players Travis Pittman and Taylor Bond.

Sockers forward Leonardo de Oliveria will represent Brazil.

Sockers head coach Phil Salvagio will make his second appearance as Team USA coach and battle head-to-head against Sockers assistant coach Ortiz for the second time in the series of three tournaments.

“When you consider that 15 players are selected to start a MASL match, having 14 Sockers selected to their respective national teams says a lot,” Sockers General Manager Sean Bowers said. “We are proud to have our boys play for country as well as club, and I hope to see one of them lifting the World Cup (trophy) at the end. We also know they will be getting invaluable experience they can bring back to our club as we pursue the Ron Newman Cup.”

The numbers are not lost on Ortiz, especially after two runner-up finishes.

The San Diego Sockers development team completed an undefeated 14-0 season to win the MASL2 championship in 2018-19. Photo courtesy San Diego Sockers

Getting his kicks
The Sockers2 finished the 2018-19 MASL2 season 14-0, including victories in two playoff matches.

It was the first title for the Sockers development team in its two-year history.

Ortiz earned honors as the MASL2 Coach of the Year while Sockers2 goalkeeper Yair Aguilar, who anchored the team’s defense with a league best 11 wins, 2.61 goals-against average and two shutouts, received honors as the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year.

Ortiz can relate to his players after winning the Mitre National Amateur Championship title with the Sockers Reserves while being named tournament MVP.

“This is where I got my start, with the reserve team, this is where it leads to,” Ortiz said. “It is not easy to win a championship, the players should be proud of what they have done.”

San Diego Sockers assistant coach Rene Ortiz serves as head coach of the Sockers2 development team. Photo courtesy San Diego Sockers

It’s not the first championship for Ortiz at any level.

Ortiz’s Hilltop teams have won or shared multiple league championships. The Lancers shared the 2018-19 South Bay League title with Mater Dei Catholic.

Arely Salcedo earned honors as the 2018-19 South Bay League Player of the Year as the Lancers finished advanced to the Division III section playoffs.

While he has coached club soccer for many years, Ortiz also supports high school soccer.

“High school athletics offers students a chance to represent their school,” Ortiz said. “It offers the athletes to be recognized by their peers from their own school. It’s something every athlete should be able to do.”

The Sockers kick off the 2019-20 MASL season with a game Nov. 24 at Pechanga Arena San Diego.

The Sockers’ 2018-19 season ended where the preceding campaign had ended — one step from the Ron Newman Cup Final — after dropping a 4-3 overtime decision to the Monterrey Flash in the Western Conference Final.

With the loss, the Sockers saw their imposing 23-game winning streak come to an abrupt end en route to a final 25-2 overall record following a 23-1 regular season finish.

The Sockers saw their imposing 23-game winning streak end with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Monterrey Flash in the semifinal round. The Milwaukee Wave won the playoff championship.

For more information, visit the Sockers website at www.sdsockers.com.


2019 World Minifootball Federation World Cup

Oct. 1-11 ion Perth, Australia

Games of Oct. 1
Guatemala 3, Iraq 1
Colombia 3, India 1
Hungary 4, Saudi Arabia 2
Portugal 2, Ghana 2
Romania 10, Nigeria 0
Afghanistan 3, England 2
Australia 4, Thailand 0

Games of Oct. 2
USA 8, Argentina 0
Tunisia 8, Costa Rica 0
Mexico 4, Moldava 0
Switzerland 6, Somalia 2
Brazil 7, South Africa 2
Serbia 3, Chile 0
Czech Republic 17, Singapore 0
Slovakia 6, Japan 0

Games of Oct. 3
Ghana 7, Guatemala 1
Colombia 5, Thailand 3
Hungary 9, England 0
Saudi Arabia 9, Afghanistan 1
Portugal 4, Iraq 2
Lebanon 8, Nigeria 1
Australia 11, India 0
Romania 3, Ukraine 1

Games of Oct. 4
USA 3, South Africa 1
Moldava 10, Switzerland 1
Chile 6, Singapore 1
Mexico 11, Somalia 2
Japan 0, Tunisia 0

Games of Oct. 5
Thailand 2, India 1
Hungary 10, Afghanistan 0
Ghana 3, Iraq 2
Romania 2, Lebanon 1
England 3, Saudi Arabia 3
Australia 4, Colombia 1
Ukraine 8, Nigeria 2

Games of Oct. 6
Japan 6, Costa Rica 6
Brazil 2, USA 0
Mexico 11, Switzerland 0
South Africa 3, Argentina 2
Serbia 6, Singapore 0
Moldava 4, Somalia 0
Czech Republic 7, Chile 0
Tunisia 1, Slovakia 1

Games of Oct. 7
Brazil 10, Argentina 1
Czech Republic 4, Serbia 2
Slovakia 4, Costa Rica 0


Group A
Australia 3-0-0
Colombia 1-2-0
Thailand 1-2-0
India 0-3-0

Group B
Hungary 3-0-0
Saudi Arabia 1-1-1
Afghanistan 1-2-0
England 0-2-1

Group C
Romania 3-0-0
Ukraine 2-1-0
Lebanon 1-2-0
Nigeria 0-3-0

Group D
Ghana 3-0-0
Guatemala 2-1-0
Iraq 1-2-0
Portugal 0-3-0

Group E
Mexico 3-0-0
Moldava 2-1-0
Switzerland 1-2-0
Somalia 0-3-0

Group F
Slovakia 2-1-0
Tunisia 1-0-2
Japan 0-1-2
Costa Rica 0-2-1

Group G
Czech Republic 3-0-0
Serbia 2-1-0
Chile 1-2-0
Singapore 0-3-0

Group H
Brazil 3-0-0
USA 2-1-0
South Africa 1-2-0
Argentina 0-3-0


Playoffs/First Round
Games of Oct. 8
Hungary 22, Colombia 0
Australia 2, Saudi Arabia 1
Romania 10, Guatemala 0
Ukraine 8, Ghana 0
Mexico 7, Tunisia 0
Slovakia 4, Moldava 3
Czech Republic 5, USA 4
Brazil 3, Serbia 2

Games of Oct. 9
Hungary 3, Ukraine 0
Brazil 2, Slovakia 1
Romania 6, Australia 0
Mexico 2, Czech Republic 1

Games of Oct. 10
Brazil 2, Hungary 1
Mexico 2, Romania 1

Championship Finals
Games of Oct. 11
Third place: Romania 1, Hungary 0
Championship: Mexico 4, Brazil 0

Results link: http://www.wmfworldcup.com/divisions/49481/games