The San Diego Sockers-presented by Kaiser Permanente San Diego-continue their final road trip of the 2023-24 MASL regular season, traveling to the Midwest for a pair of back-to-back matches this weekend against two Eastern Division playoff clubs, the Milwaukee Wave and the Kansas City Comets. Kickoff on Friday is set for 4:35pm from the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena is set for 4:35pm and will be televised on Twitch channel @masl_soccer. Saturday night’s match is scheduled for a 4:05pm first kick, and will also stream on Twitch channel @masl_soccer, simulcast in Spanish on 
The Sockers (17-4, 49 points), owners of the best record in MASL history all-time at 166-35-5, have clinched the Western Division regular season crown with three matches left to play. The 22-0 Monterrey Flash have clinched the MASL Supporters Shield for the best regular-season record in the league, so San Diego has nothing but pride, health and form to play for in the final three matches of the regular season. The Sockers are 62-6-1 over the past 69 matches (.899 win percentage).
The Sockers and Milwaukee Wave are meeting for the only time this season. The Sockers are 6-5 in the all-time series against Milwaukee, and 3-1 in the MASL. San Diego and Kansas City lock boots for the second and final time this season. The Comets stunned the Sockers at home on February 25, posting a 9-4 victory, the most lopsided home loss in San Diego’s modern history. The two franchises have a series history dating back to 1982-83 in the MISL, continuing since the formation of the MASL in 2014. The all-time series record favors San Diego 37-22, including a 4-0 all-time playoff series record. In the MASL, Kansas City is 4-2 against the Sockers.
Last weekend, San Diego clinched the West with an 11-5 win over the Empire Strykers at Toyota Arena in Ontario, California. Tavoy Morgan netted a hat trick, Charlie Gonzalez had two goals and two assists and Kraig Chiles added a goal with three assists in the high-scoring win. The Sockers completed a six-match series sweep of the Strykers, improving to 9-1 on the road this season. 
Milwaukee (15-5-2, 44 points) is trying to hold off UCFC and Kansas City to hold onto the second spot in the Eastern Division standings, holding a two-point edge over both clubs (UCFC has one match in hand). The Wave enter the weekend on a five-match winning streak, and are 9-0-2 at home this season. Milwaukee averages 6.8 goals-per-contest. Ian Bennett leads the Wave with 22 goals and 27 points. William Banahene sports a 13-4-2 record in 20 starts in net, with a 5.02 GAA and .722 SV%. 
Kansas City (13-6-4, 42 points) has clinched a playoff berth in the Eastern Division, and plays their final match of the regular season on Saturday night. The Comets are 7-1-3 at Cable Dahmer Arena and lead the MASL in attendance with an average of 4,772. Kansas City’s Zach Reget leads the MASL in goals (31) and points (45) coming into the weekend. Goalkeeper Nicolau Neto is 13-3-4 with a 4.66 GAA and .749 SV%.
Beat Us Once, Shame On You…
The San Diego Sockers boast an MASL-best 166-35-5 record over the ten-year history of the league. San Diego won consecutive MASL Supporters Shields in 2021-22 and 2022-23, awarded to the club with the best regular season record in the league. That streak that is now over with the Monterrey Flash clinching the 2023-24 Shield. The Sockers finished 22-2 in 2022-23, five wins ahead of Chihuahua (17) for the highest mark. The Sockers have a record of 62-6-1 the past 2 1/2 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. San Diego is 4-0 this season following a loss.
Final Season in the “Grand Old Arena”
The Sockers have also been the most dominant home team in MASL history, with a 90-9-1 all-time record. San Diego saw its 25-match regular season home winning streak end on January 14. The club is 52-5-1 at home over the past four+ seasons. However, the Sockers have lost three times this year at Pechanga Arena, tying the most home losses in a modern regular season (7-3 in 2015-16). Next season, the Sockers will move out of Pechanga Arena and into the new Frontwave Arena in Oceanside. 
Pretty Good on the Road, Too
San Diego is 9-1 on the season away, with a chance to improve on last year’s league-leading road mark. 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. This season, Monterrey has gone 12-0 on the road, matching a mark the Sockers have achieved twice in MASL history. The Sockers had a 17-match regular season road winning streak snapped in Ontario on February 8, 2023.
Another Round Number for Kraig Chiles: 700 (now 706)
Sockers captain Kraig Chiles is in his fifteenth season with the Sockers, ranking as the franchise’s all-time leader in goals (478) and points (706). He reached 700 with a penalty kick goal against Kansas City on February 25. It was the second “round number” celebration for Chiles this season, as on January 17, Chiles reached 400 MASL points with an assist against Empire (275-152=427 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 earlier this season.) Last year, 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 responded with points in ten straight matches, netting (14-8=22) points during the surge. Chiles was shut out against Chihuahua, ending his scoring streak. He scored his 20th goal of the season against Empire on March 10, and has scored at least 20 goals in every full season of the MASL (the league was held to a 10-match season in 2021 due to COVID). 
Pardo 101 Wins In San Diego
Sockers two-time defending MASL Goalkeeper of the Year Boris Pardo returned from a three-match suspension to take the net for the last eight matches, posting a 6-2 record. In seventeen starts this season, Pardo has a 13-3 record and 4.98 GAA, with a .675 SV%. A now three-time winner of the top goalkeeping honor in the MASL, Pardo is the league’s all-time leader in wins (125), including a 101-17-5 mark with the Sockers. Boris led the MASL in wins in 2022-23 with a 21-2 record, marking the third time in three full 24-match schedules where he reached the 20-win plateau. The 39-year-old also led the league in goals-against average (3.80) while finishing fifth in save percentage (.726). In 2021-22, Pardo earned his second straight championship, while picking up his second career award as MASL Goalkeeper of the Year. He again led the MASL in wins (19) and goals-against-average (4.20), and his .731 save percentage ranked second in the league.
Power Play Not Popping
Normally a franchise strength, the San Diego Sockers power play is currently tenth (of thirteen) in the MASL with a .302 conversion percentage (13-for-43). San Diego has scored each of their last two power play chances over the past three matches. The Sockers lead the league with 43 power play attempts. The club has scored three penalty kick goals and a shootout goal this season. 
Gabi Goal is Back , Leo on the Way?
Two top playmaking midfielders are looking to be in the lineup this weekend in Milwaukee and Kansas City. Midfielder Gabriel Costa returned from a nine-game absence due to a broken wrist on March 17 at Empire. The defending MASL Newcomer of the Year picked up right where he left off, netting two goals with an assist in the Sockers’ 11-5 win. Costa has contributed (10-14=24) points in 12 matches, an average of two points-per-match. Leonardo de Oliveira was taken off the injury report leading into the weekend, a good sign that “Leo” will return to the lineup after a seven-match absence due to a sore right knee. Leonardo has posted (7-13=20) points in ten matches this season. 
A New Flavor of Player
The Sockers on February 7 announced the signing of midfielder Flávio Guzman to a MASL player contract for the remainder of the 2023-24 season. Guzman comes to the Sockers from the Dallas Sidekicks, where over two seasons he scored (16-8=24) points in 19 matches played, including (4-1=5) points in five matches this season. The 30-year-old Texas native made his debut on February 9 in Chihuahua, and scored his first Sockers goal on February 15 vs the Outlaws. He has (3-3=6) points in nine matches for the Sockers.