by Pete Richmire


The San Diego Sockers—presented by Kaiser Permanente San Diego—begin an interstate back-to-back weekend with a Saturday night contest in Tacoma, Washington against the Stars, before returning to California for a Sunday night showdown against the defending MASL champion Chihuahua Savage. Kickoff Saturday in Tacoma at accesso ShoWare Center is scheduled for 7:05pm PT, and Sunday’s match is set for a 5:05pm PT kickoff at Pechanga Arena in San Diego. Both matches will be streamed live on Twitch: Saturday on channel @masl_soccer, and Sunday on channel @masl_soccer2.  

The Sockers (5-0, 15 points), owners of the best record in MASL history all-time at 154-31-5, are back-to-back winners of the MASL Supporters Shield, awarded to the club with the league’s best regular season record. In 2022-23 the Sockers went 22-2, finishing with five more wins than the next-best team. San Diego is 49-2-1 over the last two+ regular seasons. The club carries a fifteen-match regular season winning streak into Saturday, and a 25-match regular season home winning streak into Sunday. Both streaks date back to the 2022-23 season.

San Diego is playing Tacoma for the fourth time in six matches to start the season, and has won the first three encounters and eleven straight in the series overall. Combatants dating back to the days of the original MISL, the Sockers own an all-time record of 75-22 against Tacoma. In the MASL, San Diego is 32-4 against Tacoma, and 4-0 in playoff series (with an 8-1 overall playoff record).

The Sockers and Savage are meeting for the first of three times this season. San Diego will travel to Chihuahua on February 9, while the Savage will return to San Diego on March 3 to complete the series. Last season, the Sockers swept all three matches from Chihuahua, and the club is 6-0 all-time in the regular season against the Savage. Chihuahua eliminated the Sockers from the playoffs last year in a three-match Ron Newman Cup semifinal, winning the Knockout Game 1-0 on April 21, 2023 in San Diego. 

Last weekend’s scheduled match against the Texas Outlaws was postponed due to a water main break underneath Pechanga Arena. The damaged pipe has been repaired and the arena reopened for an AHL hockey game on Wednesday. Both the Stars and Sockers are wary of blizzard warnings in Tacoma on Saturday which could negatively impact the clubs’ travel, as both are scheduled to fly to California on Sunday morning (the Stars playing in Empire). 

In their last action, the Sockers put together their most complete effort of the season to date, taking care of the Tacoma Stars by a 9-3 final score on Saturday, December 30, 2023. San Diego put multiple goals in the back of the Stars net in each quarter, while blocking a season-high 19 shots on defense. Boris Pardo stopped 17-of-20 shots in net for his fifth win of the season, while Leonardo de Oliveira powered the offense with a goal and three assists. Tavoy Morgan added a hat trick and now has eight goals in five matches. 

Tacoma (3-3, 9 points) is 3-0 against the rest of the MASL and 0-3 against the Sockers. The Stars out-raced Utica 10-7 in their last match, and are 2-1 at ShoWare Center. Defending league MVP Nick Perera is second in the league in points (22) and first in assists (14), while leading in points-per-match (3.7). Alessandro Canale ranks second to Perera in goals (7) and points (9). MASL all-time saves leader Chris Toth is off to a slow start by his lofty standards, ranking outside the top-10 with a 7.18 GAA and .650 SV%. 

Chihuahua (2-4, 6 points) has lost four straight matches, all to their undefeated rivals, Monterrey Flash. The Savage saw several key players defect to the Flash in the offseason, including goalkeeper Berna Valdovinos and forward Edgar “Torrez” Gonzalez. On the current team, Hugo Puentes and Miguel Angel Diaz lead the Savage with five goals each. Ivan “Terry” Muñoz has started all six matches in net for Chihuahua, posting a 5.79 GAA and .667 SV%.


Excellence is our Baseline

The San Diego Sockers are an MASL-best 154-31-5 over the nine-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 50-2-1 the past two+ seasons, and hold a fifteen-match regular season winning streak which dates back to January 2023.

The Grand Old Arena is Our Fortress

 The Sockers have also been the most dominant home team in MASL history, with an 85-6-1 all-time record. San Diego is currently carrying a 25-match regular season home winning streak. The club is 47-2-1 at home over the past four+ seasons.

 A Soggy Break

The Sockers got an unexpected week off when their match on January 7 was postponed due to a water main break underneath Pechanga Arena in San Diego. The rupture cancelled two AHL hockey games as well. The Texas Outlaws are expected to return in February for the rescheduled match, on a date to be determined and announced by the MASL.

MASL Pro Indoor Cup Champions

On Thursday, January 11, the Sockers faced the Empire Strykers in a futsal exhibition, held inside the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Anaheim. Both clubs played limited regulars in two 25-minute halves. Rookie Juan Salazar scored a hat trick for San Diego in the Sockers’ 5-4 victory.

Chiles One Away from 400 MASL

Sockers captain Kraig Chiles is in his fifteenth season with the Sockers, ranking as the franchise’s all-time leader in goals (462) and points (678), and is approaching 400 points in the MASL (259-140=399 career, fifth-most). With one point, Chiles will join Franck Tayou, Ian Bennett, Leo Gibson and Nick Perera in the MASL 400-point club. (Tayou opened the MASL 500-point club on Thursday.) 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. Chiles missed both of the Sockers’ road matches so far this season, and is *not* expected to travel to Tacoma once again.

Charlie Golazo

Juan Carlos “Charlie” Gonzalez is off to the best start of his three-season Sockers career, leading the club with eight goals and fifteen points after five matches played. Gonzalez has netted multi-point games in all five matches this year, led by a three-goal, two-assist performance on December 9 in Tacoma.  Charlie now has (48-33=81) points in 44 matches as a Socker. He came to the club from Ontario, where he remains the Fury/Strykers’ all-time franchise leading scorer.

Defense Back on Track?

After allowing nineteen goals in three matches to start the season, the San Diego Sockers are finding the defensive groove that defined them the past four seasons. San Diego has conceded three goals in each of their last two wins, 7-3 over Empire and 9-3 against Tacoma. The Sockers allowed the fewest goals in the MASL (99) in 2022-23, two fewer than second-place Baltimore (101). San Diego’s average of 4.13 goals conceded-per-match compared to a league average of 5.60 goals conceded-per-match. In 2021-22, the Sockers were the only club in the MASL to allow fewer than 100 goals in the regular season (98), making them the only club to go sub-100 on defense in a 24-match schedule, and the only club to do it twice.

Boris the Great

The back-to-back defending MASL Elite VI goalkeeper and MASL Goalkeeper of the Year, 39-year-old Boris Pardo bounced back from a slow start to the season, stopping 26-of-32 shots in wins over Empire and Tacoma (.813 SV%). In stopping 17-of-20 against Tacoma, Boris earned MASL Goalkeeper of the Week honors. A now three-time winner of the top goalkeeping honor in the MASL, Pardo is the league’s all-time leader in wins (115), including a 94-14-5 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.

Block Party in San Diego

The Sockers defense rose up against Tacoma to block 19 shots, a season-high. Defender Guerrero Pino led the way with eight blocked shots and added a goal against the Stars, earning MASL Defensive Player of the Week honors. Mitchell Cardenas (four blocks) and Peewee Ortega (three blocks) also contributed multiple blocks to the effort.

Locked in Leo

The proud owner of a new five-year contract extension, midfielder Leonardo de Oliviera will look to continue his ways as a dominant force on both sides of the floor. “Leo”, 35, has four straight multi-point performances, including a club-leading four point effort vs Tacoma (goal, three assists). In 2022-23, he finished one point behind Kraig Chiles for the club lead with 40 points, and led San Diego with 27 assists, adding 12 blocks on defense. With (3-9=12) points in five matches so far this year, Leo is just 13 points away from 300 in his career. In 2021-22, l:eo helped lead  the Sockers to a second straight MASL championship while earning the league’s Pass Master title with 33 assists. His 163 career assists are the fourth-most in MASL history.

Player Highlights

Tavoy Morgan

Hat trick vs Tacoma, tied for team lead with eight goals

Gabriel Costa

Three goals, seven assists (10 points) in five matches

Drew Ruggles

Scored second goal of the season vs Tacoma