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California Cougars Game Preview

January 25, 2008 - Major Indoor Soccer League 2 (MISL 2) - California Cougars News Release

The California Cougars (7-8) begin the second half of the season at Stockton Arena against the expansion Orlando Sharks (1-16) on January 27 at 6:15 p.m. Orlando looks for consecutive wins when they face the Philadelphia Kixx Friday night at 8:00 p.m. (ET). The match between Philadelphia and Orlando can be seen on Fox Soccer Channel.

FACTS & STATS: Site: Stockton Arena (10,000) - Stockton, California. Television: SJTV (Local). Radio: KSTN-1420AM. Webcast: www.californiacougars.net. Overall Record: Orlando 1-16, California 7-8. Home Record: Orlando 1-8, California 3-5. Away Record: Orlando 0-8, California 4-3. Series Record: 1-1.

GAME NOTES: The California Cougars (7-8) begin the second half of the season at Stockton Arena against the expansion Orlando Sharks (1-16) on January 27 at 6:15 p.m. Orlando looks for consecutive wins when they face the Philadelphia Kixx Friday night at 8:00 p.m. (ET). The match between Philadelphia and Orlando can be seen on Fox Soccer Channel.

The Cougars have surprisingly been a better team away from Stockton Arena this year after posting a 4-3 road mark and a sub par 3-5 home record. Before this season the Cougars had a franchise road record of 4-26. But, California has lost four straight games including a Friday night loss in Orlando on January 18. The Sharks defeated the Cougars 16-13 for their first win in franchise history. Orlando led early and throughout most of the game. The Cougars trailed 11-4 at the beginning of the third quarter but were able to battle back and tie the game at 11 apiece before the Sharks capitalized on a power play score in the fourth to put the game away. The Cougars then lost their next match the following afternoon in New Jersey (17-14).

The Cougars have outscored Orlando 33-27 in two games played, but have split the season series, 1-1, after Friday's loss. The Cougars average more points scored per game than the Sharks with an average of 12.6. They average 11.5 points per home contest at Stockton Arena. The Sharks average a horrendous 7.4 points forced per game, almost two full points lower then the next team at the bottom of the list. Orlando is even worse away from AmWay Arena. They average just 6.9 points per road game. However, their average points forced per game has risen slightly over their last 10 games. They have averaged 8.3 points over their last 10, and 8.4 over their last five. The battered Cougars defense averages 12.6 points allowed per game, the third highest total in the MISL. The Sharks allow the second most points at 14.7.

The Cougars had allowed an average of 11.2 points per game until Ryan Hall went down with an ankle injury. Since then they have allowed an average of 15.4 points per match. The average increases if you count the second half Hall missed due to his ankle sprain against New Jersey (16.5 points allowed without Hall compared to a 10.3 points allowed average with him playing). These numbers are shocking and are just as dismal as the Sharks power play numbers. The Sharks convert a league worst 7.7% of power play scoring opportunities. They have scored two goals in 26 power play opportunities. However, they do have the third best penalty killing defense with 62.5 kill percentage. In 17 games the Sharks have allowed 15 power play goals in 40 opportunities. The Cougars are near the bottom of the list with a 50% average on penalty kills (18 goals in 36 opportunities).

Missael Espinoza will serve as the Cougars' honorary captain before the game. Espinoza will start the game with the ceremonial first kick. He will be joined by former Chivas de Guadalajara goalkeeper Martin Zúñiga for autograph sessions at various times during the game. The match marks the third time the 42 year old Espinoza has been a part of a Cougars event. He played in the two highly successful Stars of Mexico exhibition matches at Stockton Arena last year. Espinoza earned 41 international caps for Mexico in his career. He was a member of the Mexican national team's 1994 World Cup squad. He also played for Chivas de Guadalajara and the San Jose Clash of Major League Soccer.

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