THE FORCE WILL BE STRONG FRIDAY AS SOCKERS HOST OUTLAWS ON STAR WARS NIGHT
The San Diego Sockers - presented by Kaiser Permanente San Diego— wrap up a two-match homestand with another battle for first place in the MASL Western Conference, taking on the Mesquite Outlaws on a Friday night Star Wars Night showdown at Pechanga Arena San Diego. The match will kick off at 7:35pm PST, streaming live on Twitch on channel @masl_soccer.
This is the second of three contests between the Sockers (9-0, 26 points) and Outlaws (8-1-2, 24 points) this season. San Diego won a hard-fought 5-4 match on December 18 at home, and the two sides will meet again in Texas on February 18. Mesquite has played two more matches than the Sockers. In Mesquite’s lone other season of existence (2019-20) the clubs went 1-1 against one another, each winning at home.
San Diego is building off the success of a 23-0-1 regular season in 2021-22, as well as a 6-0-1 playoff run. The club has thirteen straight wins in all competitions leading back to the semifinal Match One playoff overtime loss to Chihuahua on April 18 last season. The Sockers have not lost a match in regulation since a 6-4 loss in Ontario on March 13, 2021, a stretch of 50 matches in which they are 46-0-4 (postseason included). They have won 29 straight regular season matches, a new MASL record. San Diego has won their last 15 at home.
The MASL Western Conference is proving to be massively competitive, with six clubs all vying for five playoff berths. San Diego enters the week’s action with a scant two-point lead over Mesquite and the Empire Strykers, though the Sockers hold multiple games in hand against both clubs. Empire will play Thursday night in Monterrey. Only seven points separates first and fifth place in the Western Conference. The MASL points champion at the end of the season receives the MASL Supporters Shield, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Last weekend, the Sockers prevailed in a MASL marquee matchup, defeating the Chihuahua Savage by a 6-4 count at Pechanga Arena. San Diego jumped out to a strong start with leads of 2-0 after the first quarter, and 4-1 at the half. The Savage answered back with three quick goals to start the third quarter, forging a 4-4 tie. Christian Gutierrez and Brandon Escoto netted fourth quarter goals to break the tie, and Boris Pardo stopped 15 of 19 shots to earn his 100th win in net as a MASL keeper.
Mesquite (8-1-2, 24 points) has been at or near the top of the Western Conference throughout the first half of the 2022-23 MASL season. Returning after two years of inactivity due to the COVID pandemic, the Outlaws have surged under the leadership of head coach Tatu, one of the greatest indoor players in the history of the game. Bolstered by a number of defections from rival Dallas, Mesquite ranks sixth in the league in goals-per-match (6.1) and fifth in goals-allowed-per-match (5.0). Last season’s Newcomer of the Year with Dallas, Luiz Morales leads the Outlaws with 17 goals and 23 points. Sebastian Mendez ranks second with 14 goals and 21 points. Goalkeeper Eduardo “Pollo” Cortes ranks second in wins (8), fifth in GAA (4.76) and fourth in SV% (.746) in the league.