Sockers Win In Donovan's Debut 6-4 Over Stars
Landon Donovan assisted on the game-winning goal in his Major Arena Soccer League debut as the San Diego Sockers defeated the Tacoma Stars by a 6-4 count in front of 8.492 fans at Pechanga Arena San Diego. The Sockers (13-1) set a franchise record for attendance since 2009 while winning their eleventh consecutive match, with six different players for the home side netting goals.
“It’s awesome, and this team deserves it,” said Donovan of the rich atmosphere in San Diego and the record crowd, “It’s the best team in the league, the most storied franchise in soccer history, and the players deserve it. I think the crowd got to know a lot of these players tonight, see great goals, and their personalities shine, it’s a win-win for everyone.”
With the arena buzzing in anticipation of Donovan’s debut, it was another veteran midfielder who opened the scoring on the night, as Brian Farber raced onto a header assist from Taylor Bond off a first quarter set-piece, toe-poking in the goal with his right foot at 7:42 for a 1-0 San Diego lead.
The Stars (6-7) answered back on a Philip Lund back post tap-in off Derek Johnson’s centering pass, and the score was knotted at 1-1 after fifteen minutes complete.
San Diego took control of the match with a 4-0 second quarter, with most of the offense generated from the back line. Cesar Cerda’s wicked left-to-right dribble in the offensive zone turned into a go-ahead goal at 3:39 of the quarter, putting the Sockers ahead 2-1. Three minutes later, it was Bond’s wall pass finding an unmarked Juan Gonzalez in the crease for his first goal of the season and a 3-1 lead at 6:35 of the period.
Goalkeeper Boris Pardo (W, 13-1) earned his first assist of the season when he found Guerrero Pino on the bench wall at midfield with a distribution. Pino did the rest, turning his defender by letting the ball do the work along the southern wall and then taking four touches to the middle of the field before blasting his third goal of the season from the red line for a 4-1 advantage.
When Nick Perera (2-0=2) was whistled for his fourth foul of the first half, the Sockers earned a power play and needed only twelve seconds to convert. Working from the low left corner, Donovan found Brandon Escoto lurking toward the back post and fed him a centering pass through defenders that Escoto was able to tap in for his Sockers-leading 18th goal of the season. San Diego led 5-1 after thirty minutes of action.
Tacoma tried to turn the tables with a pair of Perera goals in the third period, sandwiched around San Diego midfielder Travis Pittman’s fifth goal of the season. Troy Peterson’s rebound goal at 2:43 of the fourth drew Tacoma within two at 6-4, but the Sockers defense held firm from there and withstood over three minutes of the Stars using the sixth attacker to post the victory.
San Diego played without team captain Kraig Chiles (hamstring) and lost Farber to a hamstring injury in the second period. The Stars saw Chris Keitz and Philip Lund take second-half injuries in the match and not return to action.
Both teams now travel to Tacoma for the return leg of the weekend home-and-home series, as the Stars host the Sockers Sunday night at 5:00 p.m. at ShoWare Center in Kent. The game will be streamed live on MASL.tv.
The Sockers return to Ron Newman Field at Pechanga Arena San Diego on Friday, March 1, 7:35 p.m. to face the Turlock Express. Tickets for the game are available by calling the Sockers office at 866-799-4625 or by visiting Sockers.com.