by Craig Elsten/Sockers

ALLEN, TX - The San Diego Sockers spotted the Dallas Sidekicks a 3-0 lead on Saturday night, then came roaring back, scoring seven straight goals en route to a 9-4 win at the Credit Union of Texas Event Center. Tavoy Morgan led the way with a hat trick and assist, his second four-point match of the season.
The Sockers (4-0, 11 points) extended their MASL regular season winning streak to 24 matches, and their points streak to 45 matches (41-0-4), while beating the Sidekicks for the ninth straight time. The Sockers and Dallas (0-5, 0 points) will meet again Sunday evening at Pechanga Arena in San Diego.
Rebounding from a poor first quarter after three weeks away from the floor, the Sockers out-scored the Sidekicks 4-0 in the second quarter, 2-0 in the third and 3-1 in the fourth. Leonardo de Oliveira broke out with a three-point match (goal, two assists) and Felipe Gonzalez added a goal and assist.
The Sidekicks came out celebrating their championship heritage with throwback purple uniforms, and their play in the first quarter was reminiscent of the squad that ended the Sockers’ 48-match winning streak on this field, in these kits. A high-pressure defensive strategy put the rusty San Diego side on their back heels, and quickly led to an inviting scoring opportunity.
After a defensive foul set up a left-wing free kick, Gustavo Piedra slotted a pass across the frame and through VcMor Eligwe to Oscar Romero, who slotted a wide-open sitter from close range on the right wing for a 1-0 lead at 3:58. Another free kick chance six minutes later was cashed in when Piedra found Bradlee Baladez for a long-range strike from the right side, good for a 2-0 advantage at 10:00.
Two minutes later, San Diego’s Leonardo de Oliveira was called for a blue card penalty as the last defender, giving Dallas a shootout power play. Jamie Lovegrove was given the chance and converted in silky fashion, sole-rolling Pardo to the floor before tapping home a memorable penalty and a 3-0 lead at 12:36. The Sidekicks carried their lead into the quarter break, with Gamboa stopping all five shots he faced.
San Diego needed a break of their own to start a comeback and got it on a sloppy clearance out of the Dallas defensive zone, leading to a top-of-the-arc free kick. In a well-drawn play, Kraig Chiles back-heeled a pass to Charlie Gonzalez on left wing, whose shot-pass to the back post was rammed in at the goal line by Tavoy “The Bull” Morgan, making the score 3-1 at 3:27.
It was the Sockers’ turn to ramp up the pressure, and San Diego dominated possession following their first goal. When Leo was dropped attacking the crease, a foul was called but head coach Phil Salvagio used his challenge flag to look for a blue. The answer was yes, as the foul was upgraded to a blue card. The choice proved critical, as San Diego barely missed on their set piece to begin, but scored at the end of the power play. Leo’s wall pass found the foot of Morgan in the crease for a rocket just under the crossbar, Tavoy’s brace, and a 3-2 score at 7:44.
Just like that, the early momentum was gone, and the Sockers were in control. San Diego netted twice more to take the lead before halftime. Mitchell Cardenas, drawn in following his own wide shot to keep possession, received a back-heel pass from Morgan and deposited it just inside the right post, with Escoto stepping over a potential goal-poaching opportunity. Brandon was rewarded just 50 seconds later with a goal of his own at 14:39, taking advantage of an egregious giveaway by Dallas in their own zone for a solo score. Down 3-0 after fifteen minutes, the Sockers went to the locker room ahead 4-3.
Dallas came out of the locker room with the same defensive high-pressure strategy, but this time the Sockers were able to weather the storm for ten minutes. Morgan completed his hat trick with a lovely and difficult finish in the third quarter, taking down a high, looping aerial service from Juan Manuel Rojo on the first touch for a rolling goal and a 5-3 lead at 10:31 of the third.
San Diego closed the quarter with another last-minute dagger, as Leo spotted Kraig Chiles crashing the crease and fed him a wall pass off the goal wall for a simple goal and a 6-3 advantage. Leo then scored a banger inside the left post in the opening minute of the fourth to make it 7-3, assisted by Felipe Gonzalez.
Dallas ended the Sockers’ seven-goal run when rookie Alberto Rodriguez scored his eighth goal of the season at 2:56 of the fourth, drawing the Sidekicks to 7-4. Dallas went to the sixth attacker and paid for it at 7:53. Capturing the ball on the counter, Christian Gutierrez worked his way into the Sidekicks zone and passed across the crease to Felipe Gonzalez, who banged the ball off the wall to himself, then into the net for an 8-4 advantage. Gutierrez finished the scoring on another “wallascora”, as Gerardo Jurado fed the Tijuana forward in front of the net with a perfect pass off the goal wall for his fourth goal of the season at 8:46 of the fourth.
The Sockers were able to rest starting goalkeeper Boris Pardo (4-0, 3 saves) for the final six minutes, as Xavier Snaer-Williams saw his first action of the season, stopping both shots he faced.

Both clubs now have the challenge of going from Texas to San Diego on Sunday morning commercial flights, landing in California in advance of a 6:05pm kickoff at Pechanga Arena in the return leg of the weekend home-and-home series. The Sockers will wear their new Crossborder Kits for the first time on Hispanic Heritage night, seeking a tenth straight win over Dallas dating back to December of 2015. Tickets are available by visiting or calling (866) 799-GOAL.