Sockers Match Preview
The San Diego Sockers (3-3), presented by Kaiser Permanente, wrap up a weekend in Missouri with a Sunday afternoon matinee against the St. Louis Ambush (5-6), scheduled for 1:00pm San Diego time from The Family Arena in St. Louis. Friday night saw the two clubs battle for 59 minutes neck-and-neck, before Patrick Thompson's goal with 37 seconds left lifted the Ambush to a 4-3 victory. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for St. Louis, and ended the Sockers' two-game winning streak.
In a COVID-influenced season where San Diego will only play ten regular-season games, and in all likelihood every club will make the playoffs, these games become mostly about seeding, health, and seasoning. At .500 after Friday's loss, the Sockers fell to fourth place in the seven-team table. A win on Sunday will lift San Diego into third place; a loss would drop the club into fifth.
The 2021 Sockers so far have been a club defined and anchored by their defense. San Diego is the only club in the MASL averaging fewer than four goals conceded per game (3.67), and its two keepers (Boris Pardo and William Vanzela) have a combined save percentage of .784. The Sockers have not allowed more than five goals in a match so far this season.
However, while goals have been stingily allowed, they've been even harder to come by: the Sockers are last in the MASL in scoring (3.3 goals per match). With 20 goals scored in six games, the franchise is off to its slowest-scoring start since returning to competition in 2009. In a mirror to the club's defensive excellence, San Diego has yet to mark more than five goals scored in a match.
For the weekend, the Sockers are without a pair of regular scoring options in captain/forward Kraig Chiles, and midfielder Slavisa Ubiparipovic. The pair have combined for only two goals in eight appearances this season, but teamed up for 36 combined goals in 2019-20. Shockingly, veterans Gordy Gurson, Brian Farber, Marcio Leite, Hiram "Pollo" Ruiz, Guerrero Pino, and Eduardo Velez have combined to score zero goals this season, with only seven assists.
Now that they have suffered the front end of it, the Sockers are hoping a 2021 seasonal trend continues: San Diego is 0-3 in their opening match of a road trip, and 3-0 in subsequent matches. The Sockers have lost 5-3, 5-1, and 4-3 in their lid-lifters, with 5-3, 4-3, and 4-2 wins in matches that followed. San Diego is playing an all-road season in 2021 due to COVID restrictions in the state of California.
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Major Arena Soccer League Stories from February 27, 2021
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