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Old Rivals Meet At Pechanga Arena On Wednesday

February 11, 2020 - Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) - San Diego Sockers News Release

The San Diego Sockers (11-4) return home for a quick pit stop before heading back out on the road for three more matches in a road-heavy month of February.

Their brief visit, however, brings a key opponent to Pechanga Arena San Diego, as the 10-time indoor soccer champion Baltimore Blast make the cross-country trip to renew a historic rivalry in the sport.

Team captain Kraig Chiles has surged to the top of the Sockers' season scoring list, now leading with 15 goals and 22 points. Brandon Escoto has fashioned a seven-match point streak, including five goals in his past four matches.

This is the second meeting of the season between San Diego and Baltimore, with the Blast prevailing on January 25 by a 9-5 count at SECU Arena in Maryland.

Baltimore is led in scoring by target forward Vini Dantas, who has 26 goals and 36 points in 16 matches, including a hat trick against San Diego. Goalkeeper William Vanzela has a 10-5 record, 4.32 goals against average and .722 save percentage, to go along with a pair of shutouts against Rochester and Orlando.

The Sockers are coming off a grueling six-match road trip which included four matches in six days last week, going 3-3 overall, and 2-2 during the week-long sojourn through Mexico and Florida. The trip included an overtime loss to Western Conference-leading Monterrey, dropping San Diego four games behind the Flash (16-1) for the top spot on the ladder. The Sockers hold a 3 1/2 game lead over third place Sonora, with a tiebreaker in hand as well. SOCKERS STORYLINES

Chiles Wins MASL Player of the Week

Rebounding from an injury-marred start to the season, Sockers captain Kraig Chiles broke out in a big way during San Diego's recently concluded road trip, being named MASL Player of the Week for Week 11. Chiles scored back-to-back hat tricks in Sonora and Orlando, adding an assist each night for a four-point effort. Overall in the six-game tear, Chiles added (11-4=15) points to his ledger.

Escoto Rounding Into Form

After suffering through a career-long six match goalless streak, midfielder Brandon Escoto has rebounded to net five goals in his past five matches. Escoto has a seven match points streak, accruing (5-4=9) points during the streak. Escoto now ranks third on the club in points with (8-9=17) points in 15 matches.

Struggling Special Teams

San Diego is slumping on the man advantage, having converted only one of their last 15 power play opportunities, which came on a direct kick by Kraig Chiles. The Sockers rank 12th in the 17-team MASL in power play conversions at 23.3% (7-for-30). Of equal or greater concern, San Diego is 13th in the league in penalty killing, having killed just 15 power plays 27 attempts against (55.6%).

Speaking of Which...

The Sockers have been shown a blue card 27 times this year while seeing 30 pulled against their opponents, a fairly even ratio. By contrast, Wednesday's opponent the Baltimore Blast has been the least penalized team in the MASL by far, having been shown only 11 blue cards all year, while their opponents have seen 27. The Blast are the top power play team in the league, scoring on 17 of 27 man advantages (63%).

Cerda Reaching New Heights

With a pair of goals last Saturday in an 8-5 loss to the Florida Tropics, Sockers defender Cesar Cerda set a new Sockers career- high with 16 points (7 goals, 9 assists). Cerda is tied with Brandon Escoto for the team lead in assists with nine. In addition to his offensive contributions, Cerda is frequently asked to mark the opponent's top scorer, and logs up to 30 minutes of floor time per match.

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