SAN DIEGO HOLDS OFF SIDEKICKS BY A 5-3 FINAL
ALLEN, TX — Brandon Escoto scored four goals, the top performance so far of the young 2021 MASL season, and the San Diego Sockers rode their talented Tijuana midfielder to a 5-3 win over the Dallas Sidekicks on Sunday afternoon at the Allen Event Center. The Sockers (1-1) split their opening weekend but ended on a strong note, using a determined second half to pick up their first win of an all-road campaign.
“It was super important we win this game,” said Escoto of the result, “We started the season on the wrong foot coming in with a loss (against Kansas City on Friday), so for the second game we couldn’t lose. It will be difficult this season having all our games away from home, but the whole squad came with good energy.”
Leonardo de Oliveira scored and played an all-around game on both ends of the floor, and new Sockers addition William Vanzela made a successful debut in goal during the second half, stopping 12 of 14 shots faced to help secure the victory. Boris Pardo (1-1) stopped seven of eight shots in the first half, as San Diego tested out their all-MASL keeper duo in tandem for the first time.
“When you have the two great goalies, it brings up the level of play on the field,” said head coach Phil Salvagio, “They both hate to lose, so it’s a great thing for our team.”
While the Sidekicks (0-4) have yet to win in the 2021 MASL season, the young side was rested and ready to challenge the Sockers, who traveled through Houston to get to Allen via Dallas on Saturday, after playing Friday night in Kansas City. After a scoreless first quarter, the Sidekicks scored first, taking advantage of a San Diego turnover deep in the defensive zone. Julio Valera side-footed into an open net at 2:04 of the second quarter for a 1-0 lead.
The Sockers’ first goal of the game would come on a power-play chance, after Dallas’ Kristian Quintana was blue carded for a slide tackle. San Diego midfielder Hiram “Pollo” Ruiz spotted Escoto crashing in on right wing, and sent him a perfect pass to smash into the goal for the equalizer at 9:35. After failing to net on their first three power plays of the season, the Sockers had finally capitalized.
“It’s something we still need to work on,” said Escoto of the man advantage, “We’re working on it. Yes, I scored four goals, but all four were due to the team. Without them, those four goals don’t happen.”
San Diego’s first lead in the game came on another link-up between Ruiz and Escoto, this time with just over two minutes remaining in the half. A back-heel steal by Pollo sent the ball to Escoto, who stutter-stepped his way to an open left-wing shot, pushing the ball past Sidekicks’ keeper Juan Gamboa and inside right post for a 2-1 lead at 12:58 of the second quarter.
The Sockers extended their lead 3:24 into the third frame, as Leonardo de Oliveira spun off a mid-wall double-team in the attacking zone, slotting his first goal of the season right-footed past Gamboa’s outstretched hand for a 3-1 advantage.
“Leo’s in his prime right now, he’s doing it, and he’s got to carry the team as a forward, “said Salvagio, “He’s got to put up some points and hold that ball, and we’ve got to run off of him.”
Dallas was able to answer back on a lovely restart goal from Raul De La Gala at 12:44 of the third period, and San Diego’s lead was a scant 3-2 going into the fourth quarter. Escoto came to the rescue, netting twice on assists from defender Cesar Cerda in the final frame, one a rising shot under crossbar, and another bounced past the sixth attacker in the closing minutes.
“I believe we still have a lot of work to do both defensively and offensively, but today we showed we’re moving in the right direction,” said Escoto of the effort. The Sockers will now have two weeks to train and gain their match fitness, before heading to Florida for three matches in four days against the Ontario Fury, Florida Tropics, and Tacoma Stars. The Sockers/Fury match will take place at the neutral site RP Funding Center in Lakeland, Florida, on February 18.
All Major Arena Soccer League matches during the 2021 campaign are being aired exclusively on Facebook pay-per-view, at facebook.com/MASLsoccer/events.