SOCKERS TAKE WIN STREAK TO THE EAST COAST
The San Diego Sockers—presented by Kaiser Permanente San Diego—travel to the Keystone State of Pennsylvania for a pair of MASL road contests against the Harrisburg Heat. Saturday’s match will kick off at 4:05pm (PST) from the Farm Show Equine Arena, and will be streamed live on Twitch (channel @masl_soccer3). Sunday’s match will kick off at 2:05pm on @masl_soccer2. Saturday’s match will be accompanied by a club watch party at the Dana on Mission Bay main ballroom, starting at 3:30pm.
This weekend begins and concludes the season series between the Sockers (6-0, 17 points) and Heat (1-6, 3 points), and fills up two of the three remaining Western-vs-Eastern Conference matchups of the 2022-23 schedule. San Diego won at Harrisburg last season by a 4-1 score on March 27. In the MASL, the Sockers hold a 4-0 lifetime record against the Heat, including 3-0 in Harrisburg. All-time and dating back to prior pro leagues, the Sockers are 5-0 against Harris-burg. While the Sockers have not lost to the Heat in PASL/MASL play, the matches in Pennsyl-vania have been close, with San Diego prevailing by scores of 8-3, 7-5, 7-5 and 4-1. In the 2022-23 MASL schedule, clubs are separated into two conferences, playing twenty matches within conference and four matches without.
The MASL standings are a bit jumbled due to uneven matches played from club to club. The Sockers are in second place behind Mesquite (6-1-1, 18 points), but have two matches in hand on the Outlaws. San Diego will make up one match of difference this weekend, as they play twice and the Outlaws play once. In the West, the Sockers lead Chihuahua (5-0-1, 15 points) by two points. The top three teams in each conference are guaranteed playoff berths, with fourth and fifth place meeting in a Play-in Game to finish the brackets.
Last week, the Sockers welcomed the Kansas City Comets to San Diego for a Sunday evening match, prevailing by a final score of 7-3. San Diego used two power play goals in the opening two minutes of the third quarter to open up a match that sat 2-0 for the Sockers at halftime. Brandon Escoto scored a pair of goals, with five other individual goal scorers for San Diego. Goalkeeper Boris Pardo stopped 13-of-16 shots faced and has picked up all six available wins in net.
San Diego is building off the success of a 23-0-1 regular season in 2021-22, as well as a 6-0-1 playoff run. The club has ten straight wins in all competitions leading back to the semifinal Match 1 playoff overtime loss to Chihuahua last season. The Sockers have not lost a match in regulation since a 6-4 loss in Ontario on March 13, 2021, a stretch of 47 matches in which they are 43-0-4 (postseason included). They have won 26 straight regular season matches, and 15 in a row on the road.
Harrisburg (1-6, 3 points) has lost four straight matches after upsetting Baltimore 5-4 on Decem-ber 17. The Heat are 1-1 at home but 0-5 on the road. Top forward Dominic Francis has been held to three matches played and a single goal scored. Danny DiPrima currently leads Harris-burg with (5-2=7) points in seven matches played. Rookie Chase Vosvick has led the team in net with four starts, a 1-3 record, 6.99 GAA and .671 SV%. Former Baltimore veteran forward Andrew Hoxie is in his first season with the Heat, and has scored three goals.
The Streak (Junior)
There’s no true comparison to the longest winning streak in U.S. pro sports history, the Sockers winning 48 straight matches from 2010-13. With that said, San Diego is on a 47-match points streak, with a 43-0-4 record dating back to 2021, counting regular season and playoffs. The On-tario Fury is the last club to beat San Diego in regulation, a 6-4 result on March 13, 2021. The Sockers are 9-4 in overtime during the streak.
The Streak (Junior Junior, Regular Season Edition)
The Sockers have won 26 consecutive regular season MASL matches. Their last regular sea-son loss of any kind was an 8-7 OT loss to the Ontario Fury on January 9, 2022. The club has won fifteen straight MASL regular season away matches, dating back to their 6-4 loss in Ontario on March 13, 2021. In all competitions, the Sockers have won ten in a row (four Ron Newman Cup playoffs, six 2022-23 regular season).
The Rock Upon Which We Are Built
The defending MASL Elite VI goalkeeper and MASL Goalkeeper of the Year, 38-year-old Boris Pardo has maintained his all-league form in 2022-23. Pardo is 6-0 in six starts, having played all but six minutes total in net this season. He leads the league with a 3.18 GAA, more than a goal-per-match better than second place (Diego Reynoso, 4.37). On December 18 Pardo out-dueled Mesquite’s Eduardo “Pollo” Cortes, stopping 14 of 18 shots. In a goalkeeper’s duel on Decem-ber 11 vs Empire, Pardo beat Chris Toth, stopping nine of ten shots faced including a point-blank chance in overtime. Last season, Pardo led the MASL in wins (19-0-1 record) and goals-against average (4.20 GAA), while his .731 save percentage was second in the league. Pardo was even better in the playoffs, starting all seven matches and posting a 6-0-1 record, 3.36 GAA and .767 SV%.
Morgan On the Road Again
Forward Tavoy Morgan was one of two Sockers named to the MASL’s Elite VI (first team all-MASL) in 2021-22, joining Goalkeeper of the Year Boris Pardo. Morgan finished his first full sea-son in San Diego as the top target forward in the MASL, ranking second in the league with 39 goals, and third in points with 49. Tavoy added seven goals and nine points to the club’s cham-pionship playoff run. Morgan led the MASL in power play goals (9) and set career highs in goals and points, while also setting single-game highs in goals (5) and points (7). So far this season, Morgan has a hat trick and four-point match in each of two road matches. He scored his first two home points in Sunday’s 7-3 win over Kansas City, netting a goal and assist.
In the first six matches of the 2022-23 campaign, the defense has allowed 19 goals (3.18 per match). Sockers defenders have combined to block 50 shots, including 14 in the last match. In 2021-22, the Sockers were the only MASL club to allow fewer than 100 goals in the regular sea-son, conceding 98, an average of 4.08 goals per match. 27 of their 98 goals allowed came on short fields (Chihuahua and Baltimore), with the Sockers allowing just 3.55 goals per match on regulation-sized floors.
Brazilian midfielder Leonardo de Oliveira led the MASL with 33 assists last season, earning the league’s first-ever “Pass Master” award. Leo’s total was six higher than second-place finisher Nick Perera. Combined with 13 goals on the season, de Oliveira’s 46 points scored ranked tied for fifth in the league. Leo added his 100th career MASL goal during the season, and has 106 goals and 242 points in his indoor career, an average of 1.90 points-per-match. Leo picked up a season-high three assists against Kansas City, and leads the club with eight assists.
Sockers forward Christian Gutierrez has emerged over the past three seasons as one of the preeminent two-way forwards in the MASL. In addition to being tasked with patrolling the defen-sive side of the floor, Gutierrez is a potent counter-attack striker who often opens up matches late in the fourth quarter. On the season, Gutierrez is tied for second on the club with six goals and is fourth in scoring with eight points.
Chiles Returns to Form
Sockers captain Kraig Chiles is the franchise’s all-time leader in goals (440) and points (635), and is on the long approach to 400 points in the MASL (237-119=356 career). It’s unusual to see Chiles shut out, but after being held scoreless in his season debut on December 11, Kraig roared back with a hat trick and assist on December 18 against Mesquite. Chiles has added a goal in each match since, and is tied with Brandon Escoto for the club lead with two game-win-ning goals in six matches played.
Sockers midfielder and Tijuana native Brandon Escoto led the Sockers with a pair of goals in the victory over Kansas City. Escoto leads the club with 29 shots on net. Escoto was one of the most balanced attackers in the MASL in 2021-22, Escoto finished in the MASL’s top-10 in both goals and assists, finishing with (21-23=44) points, good for T-7th in the league. Escoto added five goals and three assists in the playoffs, including the go-ahead goal in Game One of the Ron Newman Cup Finals. Escoto scored two goals in the Game Two Finals clincher.
Power Play Plugged Back In?
The Sockers are off to a puzzling start on the power play, ranking dead last in the West with a .333 conversion percentage (5-of-15). San Diego did see signs of life against Kansas City with back-to-back third quarter power play goals, and a 2-for-4 performance overall. Last year, San Diego led the MASL in both power play efficiency (27-for-45, 60%) and penalty killing efficiency (16-for-22, 73%) during the 2021-22 season. Tavoy Morgan led the MASL with nine power play goals and the club set an all-time franchise record with a six-for-six power play performance on February 12 against the Tacoma Stars.
Midfielder Brandon Escoto (illness) is not on the trip. Midfielders Leonardo de Oliveira and Hi-ram Ruiz are questionable (lower body). Defender Ismael Rojo is now available to be signed thanks to a change in MASL visa policy, but is himself working back from a knee injury and only recently returned to practice.
Juan Manuel Rojo
Celebrated 26th birthday on Wednesday, scored first goal of season previous match
Has scored at least one point in all six matches this season
Leads the club with ten blocked shots