Sockers Match Preview

December 2, 2023 - Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) - San Diego Sockers News Release

The San Diego Sockers-presented by Kaiser Permanente San Diego-begin the 2023-24 MASL regular season with a home date against the Tacoma Stars on Sunday night at Pechanga Arena. The match is scheduled for a 5:05pm PST kickoff, and will be streamed live on Twitch on channel @masl_soccer.

The Sockers are in search of their third consecutive MASL Supporters Shield, awarded to the club with the league's best regular season record. In 2022-23 the Sockers went 22-2, finishing with five more wins than the next-best team. San Diego is 45-2-1 over the last two regular seasons. The club carries a ten-match regular season winning streak into the season from last year.

The Sockers and Tacoma Stars come together for the first of six meetings this season, including two in a row to begin the campaign. The two clubs will meet again on December 9 in Tacoma, and once more in San Diego on December 30 before the calendar year comes to an end. The Sockers will go twice more to Tacoma in January, and the two clubs will wrap up the regular season against one another March 30 in San Diego, the final regular season home match at Pechanga Arena. Combatants dating back to the days of the original MISL, the Sockers own an all-time record of 72-22 against Tacoma. In the MASL, San Diego is 29-4 against Tacoma, and 4-0 in playoff series (with an 8-1 overall playoff record). The Sockers went 2-0 against the Stars in 2022-23, and have won eight straight in the series, last losing on 3/14/21 at Toyota Arena in Ontario (during the COVID-influenced season).

San Diego will do battle in a six-team Western Division this season, with the top four teams qualifying for the Ron Newman Cup playoffs. The Sockers will play a Western-heavy schedule, facing Tacoma and Empire six times each, defending champion Chihuahua three times, Texas Outlaws three times, and Dallas twice (20 games total). Four out-of-division matches will see the Sockers host St. Louis and Kansas City, while traveling to Kansas City and Milwaukee. The Sockers boast the MASL's best defense for two seasons running, the only club to allow fewer than 100 goals in a 24-match season, which they've done in back-to-back campaigns. Goalkeeper Boris Pardo is the back-to-back Goalkeeper of the Year and a three-time winner of the award in the past five seasons. Team captain Kraig Chiles begins the season eight points away from 400 in his MASL career, and 29 points from 700 in his Sockers career (including the PASL). Free agent acquisitions Drew Ruggles and Gabriel Costa bolster a roster that already returned nine double-digit scorers.

Tacoma (first match, 12-10-2 last season) qualified last year for the MASL Play-in Game in fourth place with 37 points, then lost at home to Texas (then-named Mesquite) to see their season come to an end. The Stars are led once again by star forward Nick Perera. The San Diego native won his second MASL MVP award in 2022-23, leading the league with 37 assists and 70 points. Returning to Tacoma as a free agent is goalkeeper Chris Toth. The former Socker is a top-five all-time MASL keeper in wins (85), saves (1874) and games played (146). Beyond their top two, the Stars will count on continued contributions from regulars Micheal Ramos, Jamael Cox and Alex Megson, continued growth from young forward Alexander Canale, and the return of speedy midfielder Wilie Spurr from a broken leg which cost him all of last season.

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