by Craig Elsten/Sockers

The San Diego Sockers-presented by Kaiser Permanente San Diego-welcome the Kansas City Comets to Pechanga Arena San Diego for an interconference MASL contest on Sunday night. The 5:05pm kickoff (PST) will be streamed live on Twitch (channel @masl_soccer).   

This is the only meeting of the season between the Sockers (5-0, 14 points) and the Comets (4-3-2, 12 points). San Diego begins a stretch of three consecutive matches against the Eastern Conference, as the Sockers will travel to Pennsylvania next weekend for back-to-back matches against the Harrisburg Heat. Kansas City is playing its fourth and final match against the West. In the 2022-23 MASL schedule, clubs are separated into two conferences, playing twenty match-es within the conference and four matches without. 

These two franchises have locked boots dating back to 1982-83 in the MISL, and continuing since the formation of the MASL in 2014. The all-time series record favors San Diego 36-21, including a 4-0 all-time playoff series record. In the MASL, Kansas City is 3-1 against the Sockers, with San Diego earning their first win over the Comets last year by an 8-3 score. 

Last weekend, the Sockers returned from three weeks away from the MASL floor, jumping in with two feet for an interstate back-to-back battle against the Dallas Sidekicks. On Saturday night in Texas, the Sidekicks rode the momentum of Retro Night to grab a 3-0 first-quarter lead against the visitors from California, only to see San Diego strike back with seven straight goals, eventually wrapping up a 9-4 victory. Tavoy Morgan led the way with a hat trick and assist, while Leonardo de Oliveira added a goal and two assists. The following night, the two clubs reconvened in California after a rough morning of interstate commercial travel, facing one another at Pechanga Arena. A sluggish first half saw the Sockers and Sidekicks tied 2-2, but San Diego erupted for six unanswered goals after halftime, rolling to an 8-2 victory. Christian Gutierrez paced the Sockers with two goals and an assist, with Gerardo Jurado adding his first two goals of the season. 

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 nine 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 46 matches in which they are 42-0-4 (postseason included). They have won 25 straight regular season matches.

The Comets (4-3-2, 12 points) have been living life on the edge so far this season, with four of their first nine matches going to overtime. Kansas City is 2-2 in extra time, but all the fifth periods have taken their toll: the Comets have only captured 12 of 27 possible standings points so far this season. This is their fourth and final matchup against the West, and the Comets are likely happy for it to be over, having gone 0-2-1 so far against Mesquite, Monterrey, and Tacoma. John Sosa, a veteran defender who played the 2017-18 season with San Diego, leads the Comets with (5-11=16) points and 18 blocked shots. Player/coach Leo Gibson is one of only two MASL players with over 400 career points, and has six goals in seven matches this season. Goalkeeper Nicolau Neto is the most aggressive goalkeeper in the sport. He sports a 4-2-2 record, 4.79 GAA, and .739 SV%, and also leads the Comets with five blue cards and a yellow card.