by Craig Elsten/Sockers

The San Diego Sockers-presented by Kaiser Permanente San Diego—open a weekend home-and-home interstate series with the Dallas Sidekicks on Saturday night, traveling to the Credit Union of Texas Event Center in Allen, Texas for a 5:05pm kickoff (PST). The match can be viewed for free streaming live on Twitch (channel @masl_soccer).

This is the first of four meetings between the Sockers (3-0, 8 points) and Sidekicks (0-4, 0 points) this season, with the series continuing Sunday evening in San Diego. Both clubs will be flying back to California on Sunday morning prior to a 6:05pm kickoff at Pechanga Arena. The Sockers will travel back to Texas on February 16, with the Sidekicks heading to San Diego again on March 4.

The Sidekicks will be having their Retro Night on Saturday, appropriate for two banner franchises in the sport of indoor soccer, combining for twenty championships (Sockers 16, Sidekicks 4). In the modern PASL/MASL era, the Sockers are 9-3 against Dallas. In their first meeting on January 27, 2013 in Texas, the Sidekicks ended San Diego’s record 48-match winning streak, beating them 6-5 in overtime.

In the MASL, the Sockers are 8-1 against Dallas with eight straight wins. The last time the Sidekicks beat the Sockers was on December 12, 2015, a 9-7 win in Texas. Since then, San Diego has won five straight at the Sidekicks’ home, as well as three in a row at Pechanga Arena.

San Diego has had three straight weeks away from the MASL floor over the holidays, although the team has been training throughout. The Sockers played the 2022 portion of their schedule 3-0, riding a strong team defense while the offense struggled out of the gate. The Sockers have allowed only ten goals in three matches (3.3 goals per match), the lowest figure in the league. A balanced offense has averaged five goals per match, with eight different players having netted three or four points. Kraig Chiles (3-1=4 points) and Tavoy Morgan (3-1=4) lead the club in goals.

San Diego is tasked with the near-impossible: building upon a record that was in and of itself nearly perfect. The Sockers tied their own MASL single-season wins record with a 23-0-1 mark, then went 6-0-1 in the playoffs en route to a second straight Ron Newman Cup. Along the way, forward Tavoy Morgan was named to the MASL Elite VI, Leonardo de Oliveira won MASL Pass Master, Boris Pardo claimed Goalkeeper of the Year, and the club lifted the first-ever MASL Shield, recognizing the regular season points champion. The Sockers have not lost a match in regulation since a 6-4 loss in Ontario on March 13, 2021, a stretch of 44 matches in which they are 40-0-4 (postseason included). They have won 23 straight regular season matches.

The Sidekicks (0-4) have struggled after seeing a large portion of their roster repopulate to Mesquite in the offseason. Second-year coach Ricardinho is counting on rookies Flavio Guzman (3-5=8 points) and Alberto Rodriguez (7-0=7 points) to power the attack, with steady veteran Jamie Lovegrove offering both scoring (3-1=4 points) and leadership. Dallas has allowed eight or more goals in each of their four matches. Veteran Juan Gamboa Is 0-3 in net with a .571 save percentage (SV%) and 8.59 goals allowed average (GAA)