Sockers Down Outlaws 8-4 In Team Effort

by Pete Richmire

SAN DIEGO — Brandon Escoto and Felipé Gonzalez each scored two goals as the San Diego Sockers beat the Texas Outlaws 8-4 on Thursday night at Pechanga Arena San Diego. Playing without four of the club’s top six scorers, the Sockers (13-2, 38 points) netted four goals in the first quarter and four more in the fourth to complete a season sweep of the Outlaws (9-8-1, 27 points). 
San Diego gutted out a 5-4 win over Texas on Tuesday but lost top scorer Tavoy Morgan and second-leading scorer Charlie Gonzalez to leg injuries. In addition, top playmaking midfielders Leonardo de Oliveira (knee) and Gabriel Costa (wrist) were sidelined. When the Outlaws flew in their second-and-third leading scorers, Sebastian Mendez and David Ortiz, from the U.S. Futsal National Team training camp in Argentina a day earlier than scheduled, Texas seemed to regain a firepower advantage. 
However, a spirited Sockers defensive effort kept both Mendez and Ortiz off the scoreboard entirely. Texas again relied upon defender-turned-forward Uzi Tayou, who scored two goals for the second straight match, but fell to 0-3 against San Diego.
“It was two different matches,” said Sockers head coach Phil Salvagio, “Tuesday was a tough match and Texas flew in their (U.S. Futsal) National Team guys today but they were a little tired. We had some players out, so it was two different teams from Tuesday, but we played much better.”
The Sockers took an early 1-0 lead on Escoto’s first of the night and 18th of the season, a skipping quick shot from the left mid-wall that came off the hand of goalkeeper Eduardo “Pollo” Cortes into the net at 1:49. Uzi Tayou answered back with an artistic back-heel flick at the back post, rifling a ball home on Erik Macias’ pass at 6:39 for a 1-1 tie. 
When Macias laced a half-volley through the Sockers’ set-piece defense at 11:07, Texas took their first and only lead of the match at 2-1. San Diego electrified the home crowd with three goals in the next three minutes. After a blue card was shown to the Outlaws’ Darren Mitchell for hands to the face, the Sockers converted the ensuing power play. Kraig Chiles’ pass to the top of the crease found Drew Ruggles, who put his left foot through the ball for an equalizing goal at 12:27, his sixth of the season. 
One minute later, the newest Socker made his presence felt. Flavio Guzman, acquired from the Dallas Sidekicks two matches prior, hustled into the offensive zone and played a wall pass out of the left corner to his head as he ran into the middle of the crease. He headed the ball down to Chiles, whose shot rammed the crossbar and came down to Ruggles. Drew’s header try skipped down off the turf and up in the air, where he was able to nudge the ball back into the middle over Cortes’ punch attempt. There was Flavio, waiting to blast a left-footed volley into the side net for his first goal in a San Diego kit, and a 3-2 Sockers lead at 13:36. 
Before the quarter was over, San Diego struck again. Guerrero Pino (two assists) stole a ball at midfield and raced into the zone, shooting just wide from right wing. The ball went to left mid-wall, where Luis “Peewee” Ortega ran it down and rolled a pass back into the middle. Cesar Cerda ran on the pass and right-footed it into the net at 14:29, good for a 4-2 lead. 
The second quarter was filled with fouls and attempts to draw fouls. San Diego defended a Texas power play, but generated little offense in a scoreless fifteen minutes, and guarded a 4-2 lead into halftime. 
Running “in twos”—two-man pairs alternating with one another—at every position except forward, the Sockers saw their legs seemingly start to fade in the second half, as they were held scoreless once again in the third quarter. Texas drew back within one when Uzi Tayou set up at target forward and turned his defender, spinning free for a one-on-one chance with the keeper and a toe-poke goal at 3:17 for his fourth goal in two matches, narrowing the score to 4-3. 
Needing something to re-spark the crowd, the Sockers turned to Felipé Gonzalez, the man who won the match with a 59th-minute goal on Tuesday. As rookie forward Juan Salazar turned a man in the zone and whipped a ball off the wall, it came back to Gonzalez racing in, who passed it into the net at 2:09 for a 5-3 San Diego lead. The goal (which proved to be the match-winner) loomed crucial when at 4:31, Texas’ Lucas Ramalho snuck a goal inside the right post on a shot that screened keeper Boris Pardo, putting the score-line back to one at 5-4. 
The match held in balance at a one-goal lead for the next seven minutes of the fourth quarter, before a Tijuana connection sprang back to life for the Sockers. On a ball passed lightly by the Outlaws into the middle of the floor, Escoto came crashing off the bench, racing in to steal the ball and then spin it off the goal wall. The carom came to the foot of Christian Gutierrez, and the defensive forward showed his offensive grace with a powerful goal into the left netting, pushing the Sockers advantage back to 6-4 at 11:26. 
Texas pulled their keeper for a sixth attacker, but saw both Felipe Gonzalez and Brandon Escoto score into the empty net to set the final score, at 13:45 and 14:12, each goal assisted by Guerrero Pino. 
The Sockers now travel up the I-15 to Ontario, where they will battle the Empire Strykers on Sunday for their third match of the week. The 4:05pm kickoff from Toyota Arena will be streamed live on Twitch. San Diego returns home the following Sunday for a February 25 meeting with the Kansas City Comets on Country Night. Tickets are available by calling (866) 799-GOAL or visiting