Sockers Brace for Texas Visit
The San Diego Sockers--presented by Kaiser Permanente San Diego--return home for a pair of midweek matches against the Texas Outlaws, beginning with a Tuesday makeup contest at Pechanga Arena. The match--a reschedule of the January 7 match, which was postponed due to a water main break under the arena--is set for a 7:35pm PT kickoff, and will be streamed live on Twitch channel @masl_soccer. The same two clubs will meet for a regularly scheduled contest on Thursday at 7:35pm.
The Sockers (11-2, 32 points), owners of the best record in MASL history all-time at 160-33-5, have won the first two MASL Supporters Shields, awarded to the club with the league's best regular season record. Their 11-2 record is the best through thirteen matches in the West, but trails 15-0 Monterrey in the East. San Diego is 56-4-1 over the last 2 1/2 regular seasons (61 matches).
This week will conclude the three-match season series between the Sockers and Outlaws. San Diego was able to emerge from Texas with a 6-5 victory in the clubs' first meeting of the season on February 1. The Sockers are 4-2 in the all-time series with the Outlaws, including 3-0 at Pechanga Arena. San Diego is 2-0 against Texas in the playoffs.
The Sockers are in a busy flurry within the 2023-24 schedule which sees them play four matches in ten days. Coming off a Friday night match last weekend in Chihuahua, San Diego hosts Texas on Tuesday and Thursday before traveling to Empire for a Sunday afternoon contest at Toyota Arena in Ontario. The Sockers just completed a four-match road trip through Tacoma, Texas and Chihuhahua, compiling a 3-1 record from January 28 to Feburary 9.
Last Friday, the Sockers lost a regular season match in Chihuahua for the first time, dropping an 8-6 decision at Corner Sport Arena. San Diego took a 1-0 lead after the first quarter and led 3-1 early in the second, but surrendered five goals in the remainder of the first half to fall behind for good. Leonardo de Oliveira's hat trick goal in the third quarter pulled San Diego within a goal at 5-4, but three straight tallies by the Savage (7-5) cinched the match. Chihuahua is 2-0 against the Sockers with one match remaining in San Diego in March.
Texas (9-6-1, 27 points) has a precarious hold on second place in the Western Division, leading Chihuahua by three points, but with three more matches played than the Savage (16 to 13). The Sockers, who lead the Outlaws by five points in the standings, also have three matches in hand. After winning eight of nine matches, Texas has lost three straight to the Sockers and Savage. The Outlaws are playing severely short-handed this week, as the club's top line is away due to commitments with the U.S. Futsal National Team. Luiz Morales (26 goals, 33 points), Sebastian Mendez (18 goals, 31 points) and David Ortiz (9 goals, 20 points) combine to form the "MOM line", and all three are expected to miss both Tuesday and Thursdays' contests. The Outlaws will lean on forward Vini Dantas (20 goals, 28 points) to keep the attack alive. The Texas defense averages 6.4 goals allowed-oer-match. Eduardo "Pollo" Cortes is the starter in net, boasting a 7-3 record, 5.20 GAA and .750 SV% in eleven starts. Defender Uzi Tayou leads the MASL with 52 blocked shots.
Excellence is our Baseline
The occasional loss only reinforces the numerical dominance the Sockers have created within the Major Arena Soccer League. The Sockers boast an MASL-best 160-33-5 record over the ten-year history of the league. San Diego has won consecutive MASL Supporters Shields, awarded to the club with the best regular season record in the league. The Sockers finished 22-2 in 2022-23, five wins ahead of Chihuahua (17) for the highest mark. The Sockers have a record of 56-4-1 the past 2 1/2 seasons, and saw a 16-match regular season winning streak snapped on January 14 against the Savage. The last time the Sockers lost two matches in a row was March 13 and 14, 2021 during the COVID season when the club played only on the road.
The Grand Old Arena is Our Fortress
The Sockers have also been the most dominant home team in MASL history, with an 86-7-1 all-time record. San Diego saw its 25-match regular season home winning streak end on January 14. The club is 48-3-1 at home over the past four+ seasons.
Pretty Good on the Road, Too
San Diego is 7-1 on the season away. The Sockers' 10-2 road record in the 2022-23 season was easily the best in the MASL. Chihuahua was second-best at 7-5. The Sockers had a 17-match regular season road winning streak snapped in Ontario on February 8, part of a 4-2 road trip that included regulation wins in Chihuahua and Monterrey.
Chiles Heating Up on Road to 700 Career Points
Sockers captain Kraig Chiles is in his fifteenth season with the Sockers, ranking as the franchise's all-time leader in goals (470) and points (692), and with an assist against Empire on January 17, reached 400 points in the MASL (267-146=413 career, fifth-most). Chiles joined Franck Tayou, Ian Bennett, Leo Gibson and Nick Perera in the MASL 400-point club. (Tayou opened the MASL 500-point club three weeks ago.) Last season, Chiles once again paced the Sockers attack, leading all scorers with (21-20=41) points. It was the eleventh time in his career he averaged at least 2.0 points per match. After a lull which saw the captain held to two assists in three matches, Chiles began to show the return of a midseason mustache, which has often preceded a scoring binge. He has responded with five straight multi-point games, netting (8-5=13) points during the surge.
Terrific TavoyForward Tavoy Morgan is second on the Sockers with sixteen goals and owns the club lead with (16-14=30) points. Morgan has at least one point in every match this season, and just saw an eight-match goal scoring streak ended in Chihahuahua. Tavoy has already set a personal high with 14 assists on the season, including four in his last two matches.
Pardo Done Seeing Red
Sockers two-time defending MASL Goalkeeper of the Year Boris Pardo returns from a three-match suspension to take the net against Texas on Tuesday night. In nine starts this season, Pardo has a 7-1 record and 4.87 GAA, with a .669 SV%. A now three-time winner of the top goalkeeping honor in the MASL, Pardo is the league's all-time leader in wins (119), including a 95-15-5 mark with the Sockers. Boris led the MASL in wins in 2022-23 with a 21-2 record, marking the third time in three full 24-match schedules where he reached the 20-win plateau. The 39-year-old also led the league in goals-against average (3.80) while finishing fifth in save percentage (.726). In 2021-22, Pardo earned his second straight championship, while picking up his second career award as MASL Goalkeeper of the Year. He again led the MASL in wins (19) and goals-against-average (4.20), and his .731 save percentage ranked second in the league.
Returning after missing the Chihuahua match due to travel unavailability, Juan Carlos "Charlie" Gonzalez is off to the best start of his three-season Sockers career, second on the club with (12-13=25) points after eleven matches played. Charlie has a pair of five-point scoring efforts this season, and at least one point in every match this season. Gonzalez netted multi-point games in his first five matches this year, led by a three-goal, two-assist performance on December 9 in Tacoma, then netted a goal with four assists at Dallas on February 3. Charlie now has (52-39') points in 50 matches as a Socker. He came to the club from Ontario, where he remains the Fury/Strykers' all-time franchise leading scorer.
Escoto En Su Bicicleta
Sockers midfielder Brandon Escoto has always had a flair for the dramatic, and showed it again on January 28 with a header goal at 14:55 of the fourth quarter to equalize the match against Tacoma and send San Diego toward victory. "Churras" took his soccer artistry to new heights against Empire on January 17 with an audacious bicycle kick from behind the attacking line in the fourth quarter. Escoto's bid hit the dead center of the net after sailing over the goalkeeper's head for the MASL Goal of the Year to date. Brandon leads the Sockers with seventeen goals and ranks third with 22 points on the season.
Gabi Goal Gone (For Now)
In his second MASL season, midfielder Gabriel Costa has proven himself to be a consistent high scorer, averaging almost two points per match. Costa picked up two assists on Sunday in Tacoma after a team-best goal and two assists vs. St. Louis on Saturday, then added a power play goal against Texas. Costa's (8-13=21) points are T-3rd on the Sockers and his 13 assists are tied for the club lead. Having recently suffered a broken wrist, Costa had successful surgery on February 2. Costa is expected to miss six weeks but return in time for the Ron Newman Cup playoffs.
A New Flavor of Player
The Sockers on February 7 announced the signing of midfielder Flávio Guzman to a MASL player contract for the remainder of the 2023-24 season. Guzman comes to the Sockers from the Dallas Sidekicks, where over two seasons he scored (16-8=24) points in 19 matches played, including (4-1=5) points in five matches this season. The 30-year-old Texas native made his debut on Friday in Chihuahua, being held scoreless in limited minutes.
Leonardo de Oliveira
Hat trick in Chihuahua, leads Sockers with 2.4 points-per-match (7-12=19 points in eight matches)
Leads Sockers defenders with six goals & 11 points, leads MASL with two short-handed goals
Club blocked shots leader with 28, five blocks at CUU
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