Sockers Head Home for Game Two

by Jonathan Greene

The San Diego Sockers—presented by Kaiser Permanente San Diego—continue their quarterfinal Ron Newman Cup Playoff series against the Milwaukee Wave, with Match Two of the best-of-three series set for Sunday evening at Pechanga Arena San Diego. The match will be broadcast live on Twitch at 5:05pm PDT on channel @masl_soccer. The Sockers lead the series 1-0 after a 9-2 win in Match One on Thursday in Milwaukee. 

The San Diego Sockers will be hosting a "Stand With Ukraine" Fundraising Night on Sunday during the team's MASL Quarterfinal Game Two contest at Pechanga Arena. The team is offering fans a variety of ways to support the cause while attending the game. All donations will benefit the Ukrainian House Of Non-Denomination. For more information click HERE. 

The Ron Newman Cup playoffs feature the top eight teams in the Major Arena Soccer League. Division winners earned the top three seeds, with the five next-best point totals qualifying as wild cards. The opening round sees 1v8, 2v7, 3v6, and 4v5, with each series a best-of-three. The lower-seeded club hosts the first match, and the higher-seeded club the second. If the series is tied 1-1 after two matches, a fifteen-minute Knockout Game follows to determine the winner. The advancing clubs will be re-seeded based on their season points totals for the semi-final round, with the winners meeting in the Ron Newman Cup Finals.

The Sockers (23-0-1, 66 points) were the top club in the MASL through the 2021-22 regular season, winning the MASL Shield as the regular season champions. Including the playoffs, San Diego has won twenty-one consecutive matches, the longest active streak in the MASL. The Sockers have only lost once all season, an overtime 8-7 setback to Ontario on January 9. San Diego’s exploits include a perfect 12-0 record on the road this season. The Sockers’ win streak has included four overtime victories, three in sudden death and one in a shootout, a total which reduced the club’s standing points by four under the new MASL rules. San Diego is the #1 seed in the Ron Newman Cup playoffs, with home-field advantage throughout.

The Sockers and Wave, two of the most storied franchises in the history of indoor soccer, have combined to win 22 championships but have never faced one another in a playoff series until now. San Diego and Milwaukee met once this season on February 27 at Pechanga Arena, with the Sockers posting a 13-2 win against a short-handed Wave side. 

In Match One of the series, the Sockers withstood Milwaukee’s offensive pressure early, scored against the run of play in the opening minutes, and used dominant defense to wrest away control of the game. The Sockers scored three goals in each of the middle quarters, running away to a 9-2 victory. Kraig Chiles (two goals, assist), Leonardo de Oliveira (goal, two assists), and Charlie Gonzalez (goal, two assists) powered the offense. Cesar Cerda blocked six of San Diego’s 18 blocked shots for the match. Boris Pardo stopped 17 of 19 shots faced. 

Milwaukee (10-12-1, 31 points) needed to win their final three matches in order to qualify for the Ron Newman Cup playoffs as the eighth seed. The Wave got healthy at the right time, receiving key players back from injuries such as Marcio Leite and Luan Oliveira, and took care of business, beating Dallas twice and Kansas City once to push into the playoff table. Mario Alvarez and Ian Bennett scored the Wave’s only two goals of the match on Thursday. MVP candidate Ian Bennett has carried the Wave attack all season, leading the MASL in goals (50) and points (62) in the regular season. Leite (7-23=30 points) and Oliveira (17-12=29 points) are key contributors, while Joey Kapinos has settled into the starting role in net, going 4-3 with a .719 save percentage and 6.37 goals-against average