by San Diego Sockers

The San Diego Sockers—presented by Kaiser Permanente San Diego—travel to the center of the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua and the capital city of Chihuahua, battling the Chihuahua Savage in back-to-back matches on Friday and Saturday night from the Corner Sport Arena. Kickoff on Friday is set for 7pm PST, with Saturday’s kickoff one hour earlier at 6pm. Both matches will be streamed live in Spanish on MASL TV on YouTube, with a Sockers/English broadcast on the club’s Twitch channel, 

The Sockers (4-0-1) sit atop the MASL West Division with 13 points in five matches played, a five-point lead over second-place Ontario. Chihuahua (0-4, 0 points) is in last place in the MASL West, but the Savage make their much-anticipated home debut this weekend, and are expected to present a high-end challenge in both matches, featuring a revamped and fortified roster.

San Diego is coming off a rugged three-match set against the rival Ontario Fury, in which they secured seven of nine possible standings points. The Sockers won 6-3 over the Fury on January 2, took an 8-7 overtime loss on January 9, and stormed back to post a road win at Toyota Arena 7-2 on January 16.

The last match for San Diego was their most complete effort of the season, taking a 5-1 first-half lead over Ontario before throttling the Fury defensively in the second half. Boris Pardo stopped 14 of 16 shots faced in net, while Sockers field players blocked 12 more shots. Offensively, Tavoy Morgan powered the attack with a hat trick, Christian Gutierrez scored twice, and Leonardo de Oliveira contributed two assists.

The Sockers now see the 2021-22 MASL season accelerate drastically, with five matches in ten days, played in three venues in two countries. San Diego’s four-match road trip started auspiciously with the 7-2 win in Ontario, and continues through Mexico this weekend, then back to Toyota Arena for another match on Wednesday, January 26. The Sockers will play home matches on Friday, January 28 against Tacoma, and Sunday, January 30 against Utica City FC.

While Chihuahua is going to welcome several players to their active roster who have been unable to travel to play in the USA, the Sockers will experience a similar situation cutting both ways. Midfielder Hiram “Pollo” Ruiz and defender Ismael Rojo will be active for the first time for San Diego, but the club will be without midfielder Leonardo de Oliveira and defender Guerrero Pino due to visa restrictions. In addition, midfielder Juan Carlos “Charlie” Gonzalez is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

The Savage (0-4) are desperate to pick up their first MASL standings points, and will feature a roster much different from the ones they have used in four road losses. Talented midfielder Carlos “Poper” Hernandez and forward Erick Jhon Ponce are expected to play in both matches, complementing the 1-2 attack of Hugo Puentes (4 goals, 2 assists in four matches) and Jorge “Pareja” Ríos (3 goals, 1 assist in two matches). Veteran Enrique Cañez has three goals and three assists in four matches. Ivan “Terry” Muñoz is 0-4 in net with a 6.54 GAA and .667 SV%