March 5, 2013 - Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL)
DETROIT - The Detroit Waza won their first major championship, edging out the San Diego Sockers 7-6, to capture the US Open Arena Soccer Championship before a sold out crowd of 1,256 at the Melvindale Civic Arena.
In the process Detroit handed the Sockers their first loss in regulation time since 12/18/10. The Sockers recently had a US Professional Team Sports record of 48 straight wins snapped in an overtime loss at Dallas.
Aaron Byrd's goal from a sharp angle at 13:13 of the fourth quarter proved to be the game winner as Detroit held off a late surge to seal the title.
The US Open tournament is the largest national arena soccer tournament in the country open to all US pro and amateur teams.
The Sockers have won three straight PASL titles and had won the last three US Open championships. San Diego defeated Detroit 10-7 at home in last year's Ron Newman Cup Final and the Waza had been plotting their revenge ever since.
Given the chance to host the Sockers on their own turf, Detroit seized the opportunity. San Diego took a 1-0 lead on a Kraig Chiles restart goal, but it would be the Sockers only lead of the game.
In a back-and-forth game, Detroit took four leads only to be matched each time by the Sockers. In all, the game was tied five times.
When Miki Djerisilo dribbled around Eduardo Velez and scored at 8:14 of the fourth quarter to give Waza a 6-4 lead, it looked like Detroit might be able to pull away. But the Sockers rallied with goals by Raymundo Reza and Velez, the latter coming with just 3:00 showing on the clock.
Detroit got a break when San Diego was whistled for its sixth foul with 2:29 left in regulation, putting Waza on the powerplay.
Detroit's Ricardo Lopes and Costea Decu patiently pinged the ball back and forth several times looking to create an opening. Finally, Lopes hit Byrd in the corner, where he launched a shot between Sockers goalkeeper Riley Swift and the near post.
Detroit won't have long to enjoy their victory. The Waza will face the Rio Grande Valley Flash, winners of 10 in a row, in the PASL Ron Newman Cup Semifinals Sunday in San Diego. The winner of that game will face the winner of the Sockers and the Las Vegas Legends, on Monday, possibly setting up a rematch of last year's Final.