SOCKERS FACE SIDEKICKS SATURDAY NIGHT IN TEXAS
The San Diego Sockers—presented by Kaiser Permanente San Diego—continue a four-match road trip with their second stop inside the Lone Star State, taking on the Dallas Sidekicks on Saturday evening. The match from Credit Union of Texas Event Center in Allen, Texas is set for a 5:05pm kickoff, and will be streamed live on Twitch channel @masl_soccer2.
The Sockers (10-1, 29 points), owners of the best record in MASL history all-time at 159-32-5, have won the first two MASL Supporters Shields, awarded to the club with the league’s best regular season record. Their 10-1 record is the best through ten matches in the West, but trails 13-0 Monterrey in the East. San Diego is 55-3-1 over the last two+ regular seasons.
The Sockers and Sidekicks are meeting for the second and final time this season, both times in the state of Texas. San Diego prevailed on December 16 in Texas by an 8-7 score. In the modern PASL/MASL era, the Sockers are 14-3 against Dallas. In the MASL, San Diego has a 13-1 record against the Sidekicks, including thirteen straight wins. The last time Dallas beat San Diego was on December 12, 2015, a 9-7 win in Texas. Since then, the Sockers have won nine in a row at the Sidekicks’ home, as well as four in a row at Pechanga Arena.
San Diego is 2-0 so far on a grueling four-match road trip which takes them from Tacoma to Texas to Chihuahua, Mexico over three weekends. The Sockers opened the trip coming from behind in dramatic fashion to beat Tacoma on Sunday by an 8-7 score in overtime. A wild fourth quarter featured twelve penalty cards shown to both teams, including three red cards. Despite being short-handed, the Sockers pulled their keeper to get back to even strength and scored twice in the final three minutes to tie the score 7-7. San Diego killed a penalty early in overtime before Tavoy Morgan’s goal at 2:24 of the extra period gave the Sockers the improbable win.
On Thursday, San Diego gutted out one of their most impressive wins of the season, shutting down the high-scoring Texas Outlaws on their home floor in a 6-5 victory. Filling in for the suspended Boris Pardo in net, goalkeeper Xavier Snaer-Williams made a career-high 19 saves, while the defense in front of him blocked 17 shots. The Sockers built leads of 5-2 by half, and 6-3 after three quarters. Texas rallied with two quick goals in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, but could not find the equalizer against San Diego’s defensive front. With the win, the Sockers moved back into first place in the Western Division by two points (with three matches also in hand).
Dallas (1-11, 2 points) pairs the worst record in the MASL with the worst goal differential (-65). Since beating Texas in the club’s second match of the season, the Sidekicks have lost ten in a row. Dallas’ defense has surrendered 116 goals, an average of 9.67 per match. Former Panamanian National Team player Blas Pérez is the only player on Dallas with double-digit points or goals at (14-12=16) points.
Excellence is our Baseline
The San Diego Sockers boast an MASL-best 159-32-5 record over the ten-year history of the league. San Diego has won consecutive MASL Supporters Shields, awarded to the club with the best regular season record in the league. The Sockers finished 22-2 in 2022-23, five wins ahead of Chihuahua (17) for the highest mark. The Sockers have a record of 55-3-1 the past two+ seasons, and saw a 16-match regular season winning streak snapped on January 14 against the Savage. The last time the Sockers lost two matches in a row was March 13 and 14, 2021 during the COVID season when the club played only on the road.
The Grand Old Arena is Our Fortress
The Sockers have also been the most dominant home team in MASL history, with an 86-7-1 all-time record. San Diego saw its 25-match regular season home winning streak end on January 14. The club is 48-3-1 at home over the past four+ seasons.
Pretty Good on the Road, Too
San Diego is 6-0 on the season away. The Sockers’ 10-2 road record in the 2022-23 season was easily the best in the MASL. Chihuahua was second-best at 7-5. The Sockers had a 17-match regular season road winning streak snapped in Ontario on February 8, part of a 4-2 road trip that included regulation wins in Chihuahua and Monterrey. San Diego was the only club in the MASL to pull all the available points out of their road matches in Mexico last season, getting nine of a possible nine out of Monterrey and Chihuahua.
Pardo Seeing Red
The Sockers will be without the services of all-MASL goalkeeper Boris Pardo for the remainder of their road trip, as the league handed down a three-match suspension to the 39-year-old after he was shown a red card for verbally abusing a referee on Sunday. In addition to the standard one-match suspension for a red, Pardo saw two matches added for “conduct detrimental to the league”. Midfielder Charlie Gonzalez missed Thursday’s match at Texas due to the standard one-match red card suspension after he and Tacoma’s Raphael Cox were simultaneously ejected for a fourth quarter scuffle, but is available against Dallas.
Escoto En Su Bicicleta
Sockers midfielder Brandon Escoto has always had a flair for the dramatic, and showed it again on Sunday with a header goal at 14:55 of the fourth quarter to equalize the match against Tacoma and send San Diego toward victory. “Churras” took his soccer artistry to new heights against Empire on January 17 with an audacious bicycle kick from behind the attacking line in the fourth quarter. Escoto’s bid hit the dead center of the net after sailing over the goalkeeper’s head for the MASL Goal of the Year to date. Brandon leads the Sockers with fifteen goals and ranks T-3rd with 20 points on the season.
Return of Mustache Power? Chiles Heating Up
Sockers captain Kraig Chiles is in his fifteenth season with the Sockers, ranking as the franchise’s all-time leader in goals (466) and points (686), and with an assist against Empire last Wednesday, reached 400 points in the MASL (263-144=407 career, fifth-most). Chiles joined Franck Tayou, Ian Bennett, Leo Gibson and Nick Perera in the MASL 400-point club. (Tayou opened the MASL 500-point club two weeks ago.) Last season, Chiles once again paced the Sockers attack, leading all scorers with (21-20=41) points. It was the eleventh time in his career he averaged at least 2.0 points per match. After a lull which saw the captain held to two assists in three matches, Chiles began to show the return of a midseason mustache, which has often preceded a scoring binge. He immediately responded with three goals and an assist last weekend, and a goal and two assists Thursday against Texas.
Forward Tavoy Morgan ranks second on the Sockers with fourteen goals and owns the club lead with (14=9=22) points. Morgan is on a seven-match goal scoring streak, including the OT match-winner on Sunday at Tacoma, and has at least one point in every match this season. Morgan scored a hat trick in his last trip to Credit Union of Event Center in Texas back in December.
Time for Xavier to Step Up, And He Is
With Boris Pardo serving a three-match suspension, the starting duties in the cage have fallen to Xavier Snaer-Williams. “X-Man”, should he start and finish each of the next two matches, will pass his season high for minutes in the MASL (he is at 145:11 this season, career-high is 205:17 in 2021-22). Snaer-Williams earned the win on Sunday in relief of Pardo, then stopped 19-of-24 shots in Texas to bag the win once again. He is 3-0 in six matches (two starts) this season, with a 5.37 GAA and .773 SV%. The last time Snaer-Williams was asked to step in for a weekend due to a Pardo suspension, he earned MASL Goalkeeper of the Week, allowing just six goals in two matches against Tacoma and UCFC while stopping 23-of-29 shots (.793 SV%). He is now 7-0 all-time in net for San Diego, 5-0 as a starter.
Gabi Goal Gone (For Now)
In his second MASL season, midfielder Gabriel Costa has proven himself to be a consistent high scorer, averaging almost two points per match. Costa picked up two assists on Sunday in Tacoma after a team-best goal and two assists vs. St. Louis on Saturday, then added a power play goal against Texas. Costa’s (8-13=21) points are second on the Sockers and his 13 assists lead the club. Having recently suffered a broken wrist, Costa played the weekend and Thursday with a cast, but has left the club for surgery to repair the joint. Costa is expected to miss six weeks but return in time for the Ron Newman Cup playoffs.
Leonardo de Oliveira
(3-11=14) points in six matches, two assists in return to lineup after missing five matches (knee)
Leads Sockers defenders with six goals, MASL with two short-handed goals
Club blocked shots leader with 23