A Mexican stand-off in the Southwest

by Manuel R. Medina

TIJUANA.- The only two Mexican clubs participating in the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) will play each other in the Southwest Division Championship Series tonight and Saturday, as they each seek their chances at the 2017 Ron Newman Cup.

Just south of the border with the United States, Atletico Baja will host Soles de Sonora tonight at 7:35 p.m. PT, 10:35 p.m. ET.

Soles finished their season with the best record of the 17 MASL teams. They will host the second leg of the series at the Centro de Usos Multiples on Saturday night.

Historically, Soles are the dominant side with seven games played against Baja, all of them victories. The Sonora club is so strong offensively that it has outscored Atletico, 94 goals for and only 46 against.

However, for Soles forward Franck Tayou, their regular season dominance does not matter. “The playoffs are a completely new season,” says Tayou. “Anything can happen and we have to play our best in each game.”

The regular season goal leader, with 57 goals in 20 games, he is eager to get a win and get closer to the Ron Newman Cup. Last season Sonora lost to the Baltimore Blast in the MASL Championship series. “We have been getting ready since the Championship game at Sonora,” he added. “Every detail counts.”

What goes through the mind of the other Mexican side as they get ready to face this juggernaut? “Everything good or bad this season is now behind us, starting the Playoffs every team has the same possibilities,” says Baja forward Christian Gutierrez, all-time Mexican goal scorer in a single season.

He added “(Baja has) the hope and confidence enough to beat Sonora, because we trust each other and we have worked hard. We are motivated to surprise our rival.”

The MASL postseason consists of three rounds, the Divisional Championships, the Conference Championships and the Ron Newman Cup Championships. Teams in each round will play a home-and-home series. Should the series be tied after the second game, an immediate 15-minute Mini-Game will be played to decide the winner of the series.

The match between Atletico Baja and Soles de Sonora today, will be played at Unidad Deportiva Tijuana, and will be broadcast live on MASLtv, the streaming home of the Major Arena Soccer League on YouTube.