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 San Diego Sockers

Sockers Face Deficit as they Meet Chihuahua in Game Two

April 20, 2024 - Major Arena Soccer League (MASL)
San Diego Sockers News Release

The San Diego Sockers-presented by Kaiser Permanente San Diego-have their season on the line in the 2024 Ron Newman Cup playoffs, taking on the Chihuahua Savage in the best-of-three Western Division Finals. The series continues with Match Two at Pechanga Arena in San Diego, with Match Three, the "Knockout Game" to follow if the Sockers win to even the series. Kickoff for Match Two is set for 5:05pm on Sunday, with the match streaming on the CBS Sports Golazo network. Presentation in Spanish will take place on

The Sockers (18-6, 52 points, 2-2 playoffs) have reached the MASL's "Final Four" for the eighth time in nine playoffs, and the eighth playoff in a row (the league had no championship in 2019-20 due to the COVID pandemic). San Diego clinched the Western Division with three matches to go in the regular season, suffered a drop in form which saw the club lose their final two regular season matches and their first playoff match, then rallied to win twice at home and advance. After having lost Match One, San Diego must now again win twice in one night at home, or they will be eliminated.

The Sockers and Chihuahua Savage are meeting for the third straight season on the doorstep of the Finals. Their previous two playoff encounters went the distance, needing all three matches to decide the winner. In 2021-22, San Diego overcame a 7-6 overtime loss in Match One in Chihuahua, rallying to win 6-2 in Match Two, and 4-1 in the Knockout Game. The 2022-23 series took a similar shape, as the Savage won Match One in Chihuahua 6-5, and San Diego rallied to take Match Two 6-2. However, in the Knockout Game, Carlos "Poper" Hernandez scored in overtime for a 1-0 Savage win, taking the series. The winner of this series has gone on to win the Ron Newman Cup each of the last two seasons.

In the opening round, both San Diego and Chihuahua were pushed to the limit. The Sockers lost Match One to the Texas Outlaws 6-4, while the Savage dropped their Match One in Tacoma to the Stars 6-5. Both clubs needed to win twice at home to advance, and both were up to the task. The Sockers rallied at home on April 8 for an 8-3 win in Match Two over the Outlaws, and a 4-0 win in the ensuing Knockout Game. The Savage took control on their home turf on April 7, beating the Stars 7-4 in Match Two, and 5-0 in the Knockout Game.

Match One in Chihuahua was all Savage, as the defending champs surged to leads of 5-0 and 7-1 before finishing with a 13-7 victory at Corner Sport Arena. Hugo Puentes scored four goals with an assist, Roberto Escalante netted a hat trick and Adriano Nuñez scored a goal with four assists. Kraig Chiles and Christian Gutierrez each scored two goals for the Sockers in the losing effort. The match was delayed in the fourth quarter by a fracas around the San Diego net, in which Chihuahua's Santiago Ramos was shown a red card for violent conduct. Ramos will be suspended for Match Two.

Chihuahua (16-7-1, 48 points, 3-1 playoffs) finished four points behind the Sockers in the Western Division standings, but dominated the regular season series between the two, finishing 3-0. The Savage won twice at Pechanga Arena, delivering wins of 5-1 on January 14, and 5-4 on March 3. In-between, Chihuahua took an 8-6 victory in Mexico on February 9. Carlos "Poper"

Hernandez scored a goal in each of the three matches, with Miguel Angel Diaz and Angel Castro netting two goals each. Leonardo de Oliveira is the top scorer for San Diego, netting a hat trick on February 9. San Diego went 3-0 in the regular season in 2021-22 and 2022-23 against Chihuahua. Add it up, and the Sockers are 6-3 against the Savage in the regular season, and 3-4 in the playoffs. Chihuahua led the MASL in defense this season, conceding a league-low 103 goals, and finished second in the league in goal differential at +59. Hugo Puentes led the Savage in scoring with (21-13=34) points. Diego Reynoso went 14-2-1 in 17 starts as goalkeeper, leading the league with a 3.31 GAA and finishing second with a .750 SV%.

Playoffs: Big Game Brandon Needed on Sunday

Sockers midfielder Brandon Escoto is one of the toughest players in the league to mark, and when he comes to play, it's good news for San Diego. Escoto netted a hat trick in Match Two against Texas, and added a goal in the Knockout Game to follow. Combined with an assist in Match One, Escoto led the Sockers in scoring with (4-1=5) points through three matches. He still leads the club, but was held to one assist in San Diego's lopsided Match One loss, further illustrating the importance of Brandon's big games. "Churras" has (25-20=45) points in 36 career playoff matches.

Playoffs: Boris Back in Title Form in Round One

After a rough regular season statistically, veteran goalkeeper Boris Pardo returned to the form that earned him three MASL Goalkeeper of the Year awards. Pardo posted a 2.72 GAA and .791 SV% (31-of-39 saves) in the opening round against Texas. Match One of the semifinals offered a different challenge on the reduced-size field in Chihuahua, but Pardo made sixteen saves while allowing eleven goals. The eleven concessions raised his career playoff GAA from 3.25 to 3.54. In 28 career playoff starts, Pardo is 18-6-4 with a 3.54 GAA and .747 SV%.

Playoffs: Led by Balance

The Sockers have been looking for one another on the offensive side of the floor, and the numbers bear out the club's unselfish attack. Twelve of the sixteen Sockers field players to suit up netted at least one point during the playoffs, with seven scoring four points or more.

Playoffs: Peewee Out For Sunday

Sockers defender Luis "Peewee" Ortega was struck on the side of the head while blocking a shot in the second quarter of Thursday's Match One loss. He was taken for further medical evaluation in Chihuahua and was cleared to fly back to San Diego. Ortega will not be available for selection for Sunday's matches.

2023-24 Regular Season Notes

Historically Good

The San Diego Sockers boast an MASL-best 167-37-5 record over the ten-year history of the league. San Diego won consecutive MASL Supporters Shields in 2021-22 and 2022-23, awarded to the club with the best regular season record in the league. That streak that is now over with the Monterrey Flash clinching the 2023-24 Shield. The Sockers finished 22-2 in 2022-23, five wins ahead of Chihuahua (17) for the highest mark. The Sockers have a record of 63-8-1 the past three seasons, and saw a 16-match regular season winning streak snapped on January 14 against the Savage. The Sockers enter the playoffs on a two-match losing streak, dropping games at Kansas City and vs Tacoma when there were no playoff stakes. It ended an almost-four season streak of avoiding consecutive losses, as 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.

Final Season in the "Grand Old Arena"

The Sockers have also been the most dominant home team in MASL history, with a 90-10-1 all-time record at Pechanga Arena. San Diego saw its 25-match regular season home winning streak end on January 14. The club is 52-6-1 at home over the past four+ seasons. However, the Sockers' final season at Pechanga was their worst in terms of win-loss, as the club finished 8-4, the most home losses in a single season during the club's modern history. San Diego lost twice to Chihuahua, once to Kansas City and once to Tacoma at home. The club is moving to the brand-new Frontwave Arena in Oceanside next season.

Pretty Good on the Road, Too

San Diego completed a 10-2 road schedule, matching their mark from last season. The Sockers' 10-2 road record in the 2022-23 season was easily the best in the MASL, five wins better t han Chihuahua. This season, Monterrey has gone 12-0 on the road, matching a mark the Sockers have achieved twice in MASL history. The Sockers had a 17-match regular season road winning streak snapped in Ontario on February 8, 2023.

Tavoy Morgan Leads Sockers Offense

Forward Tavoy Morgan finished the regular season as the Sockers' leading scorer with (26-22=48) points, a total which was two points off the league lead. Morgan finished one point shy of his career high of (39-10=49) points set in 2021-22. His 22 assists finished three off the league lead, and represented a doubling of his previous career best of 11, set in 2022-23. Morgan heads into the playoffs on the heels of a two goal, one assist match in the season finale against Tacoma.

A Milestone Season for Kraig Chiles

Sockers captain Kraig Chiles is in his fifteenth season with the Sockers, ranking as the franchise's all-time leader in goals (481) and points (711). He reached 700 with a penalty kick goal against Kansas City on February 25. It was the second "round number" celebration for Chiles this season, as on January 17, Chiles reached 400 MASL points with an assist against Empire (278-154=432 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 earlier this season.) With (24-16@) points, Chiles recorded his third straight 40+ point season, and the eighth of his MASL career. Last year, 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 responded with points in ten straight matches, netting (14-8=22) points during the surge. Chiles was shut out against Chihuahua, ending his scoring streak. He scored his 20th goal of the season against Empire on March 10, and has scored at least 20 goals in every full season of the MASL (the league was held to a 10-match season in 2021 due to COVID). Chiles is two points from his eighth 40+ point season in the MASL.

Pardo Crosses Century Mark for SD Wins

Sockers two-time defending MASL Goalkeeper of the Year Boris Pardo made nineteen starts this season, posting a 14-4 record and 4.99 GAA, with a .684 SV%. A now three-time winner of the top goalkeeping honor in the MASL, Pardo is the league's all-time leader in wins (126), including a 102-18-5 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. The playoff series against Texas, with two matches in three days, presents a challenge to the veteran keeper: when playing with two+ days rest this season, Pardo is 12-2 with a 4.47 GAA and .699 SV%. When playing with one-or-zero days' rest, Pardo is 2-2 in five starts with a 6.87 GAA and .645 SV%.

Escoto Always Dangerous


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 led the Sockers in the regular season with 29 goals and ranked second with 45 points on the season.

Power Play Popping Again

The San Diego Sockers power play bounced back from a season-long slump to score on seven straight tries toward the end of the season, including a 4-for-4 performance in Kansas City. The streak ended against the Tacoma Stars in the regular season finale. In the regular season, the Sockers led the MASL in power play goals (18) and in power play opportunities (51). The club's .353 conversion percentage ranked sixth in the league. PLAYOFFS: San Diego is 2-for-5 on the man advantage through four matches.

Brazilian Playmakers Ready for Playoff Run

Midseason injuries to playmaking midfielders Gabriel Costa and Leonardo de Oliveira led directly to the power play slump spoken of in the above note. Costa missed nine straight matches with a broken wrist from February 1 to March 17, while "Leo" was out for much of both January and March with knee pain, which has limited his speed and mobility since his return. In the end, de Oliveira was held to a career-low (full season) total of 13 matches played, contributing (8-14=22) points to the offense. In his first season with the Sockers, Costa appeared in 15 matches, netting (12-17)) points.

Player Highlights

Charlie Gonzalez

(58-45=103) points in 58 matches as a Socker, (2-2=4) points in opening playoff round, returns to lineup on Sunday

Mitchell Cardenas

Former Outlaw led the Sockers with 32 blocked shots

Felipe Gonzalez

Tied Sockers career-best with 11 goals, scored (2-1=3) points in opening playoff round

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