by Craig Elsten/Sockers

The San Diego Sockers- presented by Kaiser Permanente San Diego—put a twelve-match winning streak on the table as they welcome in the second-hottest team in the Major Arena Soccer League, the Chihuahua Savage, for a West Division showdown on Sunday evening. Kickoff at Pechanga Arena San Diego is set for 5:05pm, with the match being carried live on MASL TV on YouTube.

The Sockers (15-0-1, 42 points) have only lost once all season, an overtime 8-7 setback to Ontario on January 9, and enter the week in the top spot of the MASL standings table, five points ahead of Florida (37 points) and ten points ahead of Kansas City (32 points). The Tropics will have played twice by the time San Diego kicks off, with a weekend road trip to Milwaukee and St. Louis. The win streak has included four overtime victories, three in sudden death and one in a shootout.

Sunday’s contest pits the two hottest teams in the MASL head-to-head. After an 0-5-2 start to their season, the Chihuahua Savage have won seven straight matches, moving into the playoff table. The Sockers are 3-0 against Chihuahua this season, and will be looking for the series sweep on Sunday night. San Diego defeated the Savage 4-1 back on December 19, 2021, and then weathered a pair of golden-goal overtime victories in Chihuahua, 6-5 on January 21, 2022, and 11-10 on January 22. The Savage have not lost since.

The Sockers are 7-0-1 at home so far this season, including five straight wins. The Sockers have out-scored their opponents 42-14 during the home winning streak, never allowing more than three goals in a match. Overall at home, the Sockers are allowing 3.38 goals per match, only once having conceded more than three times at home (January 9, an 8-7 OT loss to Fury).

Last weekend, the Sockers put on a dominant display against two of the legacy programs in the MASL, beating the Kansas City Comets 8-3 on Friday night, and the Milwaukee Wave 13-2 on Sunday night. Boris Pardo was the consistent through-line for the weekend, starting both games in net en route to his league-leading 11th and 12th wins of the season. Brandon Escoto had four goals in the Friday win, with Kraig Chiles handing out four assists. The scoring went up against Milwaukee, with Tavoy Morgan netting a career-high five goals with an assist, and Leonardo de Oliveira setting a career-high with six assists. Juan Carlos “Charlie” Gonzalez and Kraig Chiles also had hat tricks in the win.

Chihuahua (7-5-2, 21 points) sits in seventh place in the MASL playoff table heading into the weekend. The Savage enters the weekend four points behind Ontario Fury (8-4-2, 25 points) for second place in the MASL West, and will face the Fury at Toyota Arena in Ontario on Tuesday night. Chihuahua has points in nine straight results, counting back-to-back overtime losses to San Diego in late January. The Savage attack is powered by Jorge “Pareja” Rios, who has (24-7=31) points in twelve matches, including at least one goal in every match played. Hugo Puentes is second on Chihuahua with (13-12=25) points, and veteran defender Carlos “Poper” Hernandez is a force from the backline with (13-7=20) points in ten matches. Since Luis Jaime Borrego took over as Chihuahua’s technical director, the Savage are 7-0-2. Goalkeeper Berna Valdovinos’ arrival coincided with Chihuahua’s turnaround, going 7-1-2 with a 7.57 GAA and /644 SV%.