Feb. 8, 2012
University of Michigan freshman women's soccer player Christina Murillo has had a busy few weeks.
Last month, Murillo announced that she would skip this semester of classes at Michigan in order to train with the Mexican women's national team, with the hopes of making the country's roster for the 2012 Summer Olympics and/or the Under-20 FIFA World Cup. Murillo was on the team's roster for the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying in Vancouver, British Columbia, starting the team's second match against the Dominican Republic, but Mexico was denied a spot in this year's Olympics after a loss to Canada in the semifinals.
Murillo travels back and forth from Southern California and Mexico to train. Brad Rudner of MGoBlue.com recently caught up with the midfielder in between her busy schedule to discuss her experiences at CONCACAF and what the immediate future holds in this exclusive Q&A.
Brad: You were in Vancouver for over a week for the CONCACAF Olympic Women's Qualifying tournament, and played four matches with Mexico. Describe the experience playing in that competition?
Christina: It was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life. There were big-time athletes there, people that you seen on the national stage like Hope Solo and Abby Wambach. It was surreal, and to play in one of the games was so exciting.
Brad: You actually started against the Dominican Republic. What was that like?
Christina: I wasn't really expecting to get any playing time, so the fact that I started and played the whole game was incredible. I kept thinking about my parents, and why I was playing. I felt so proud to have been able to play for another country.
Brad: How were you able to get this opportunity?
Christina: It's a little bit of a strange story. Greg [Ryan] actually spoke with [Mexican coach] Leonardo Cuellar, and suggested I play with Mexico, because that fit my style a little bit better, so I went down there. I actually didn't like it at first, but I kept with it. I got to start my first game even though I hadn't played at center mid, so there wasn't much of a learning curve.
Brad: What can you take away from these experiences that will help you be a better player when you return to Michigan?
Christina: I definitely think the speed of play was a lot different than in college. Fitness-wise, I'll be able to do a lot better at Michigan than I did before. The game is the same, but there are some different aspects to it, obviously. It's something you have to experience yourself. You can't just pass it on.
Brad: Meanwhile, your team back here at Michigan is in the midst of its offseason training program, and the spring season is right around the corner. Do you miss it?
Christina: There are different aspects that I miss. I definitely miss being there, especially seeing my teammates every day. The college game is much friendlier, and it seems like much more of a family. Everyone is extremely competitive here. I think I'll be back by August, maybe a little later, depending on if we qualify for the U-20 World Cup.
Brad: Since Mexico didn't qualify for the Olympics, what's the next step for you? Where do you go from here?
Christina: A lot of the U-20s are going to China, so we'll prepare for the World Cup qualifiers, which are in March, and in order to qualify, we need to reach first, second or third in CONCACAF. I think it's attainable. Look at what happened in the U-17s. The U.S. didn't make it, and their team wasn't as strong. I think our team this time around is much stronger than last time. With the experience I received from having played with the full team, I think I can make a big impact.
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423