Around The League With Joseph Reina // Week #15

**The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the viewpoints or positions of the Major Arena Soccer League.**



The odds are always stacked against the visitors at Pechanga Arena in San Diego. The Lords of Indoor seem to reign in perpetuity, but as we’ve seen this season, their crown may have been usurped.

Three wins from three for Chihuahua against the Sockers, including this week’s most recent victory, have helped them recover from their five losses to Monterrey and regain their status as the league’s royalty. They’ve earned the right to defend their title into the playoffs, though their opponents have yet to be determined.

They did it the hard way. On the road, against San Diego, down 2-0 almost halfway through the game. They scored four straight to take the lead, but promptly conceded a third and fourth. Normally, this sort of turnaround would naturally lend itself to a Sockers win, especially at home, but momentum be damned, 20 seconds later, Angel Castro grabbed Chihuahua’s winner.

This was one of Chihuahua’s best offensive performances of the season, contrasted with one of their worst in defense. Those statements are not a criticism of the Savage in any way, it’s proof they can win in different ways, and on a night when their best was needed in attack, Genoni Martinez’s side delivered spectacularly.

It’s also a testament to just how good they’ve been defensively, that this, a 5-4 road win, was one of their worst performances.

San Diego scored on 16% of their shots, which isn’t high, but for the Savage, their opponents have only finished a game with a higher goals-per-shot figure on six occasions, and only two of those were above the league average of 22.4%. They smother opponents and force them into bad shooting chances, many of which are missed, blocked, or saved by Diego Reynoso in goal.

The playoffs are a different beast and Chihuahua proved that they could handle it last season. This year, they’ve cemented their spot as the Western Conference team to beat, despite the fact they’ll likely finish the season as the second seed. With all four playoff places locked up, it’ll be either Tacoma or Texas that will face the Savage in the first round, but there’s still a lot of soccer to be played until then.

The fun part is they’ve got one final chance to get one over on their Mexican rivals before the playoffs start when the Flash travel to Corner Sport Arena for the final regular season meeting between Chihuahua and Monterrey on Thursday, Mar. 7, at 9:00 p.m. EST.


This weekend was huge for Baltimore’s playoff chances. With the Comets’ resurgence, the Blast needed some big points against Milwaukee and Utica but came up empty-handed in both contests. So, now that they no longer control their destiny, can they still make the playoffs?

The short answer is yes, but it would take some miracles. From here on out, every point is critical, both for the Blast and the Comets. If the Comets were to win out in regulation, Baltimore would be eliminated, no matter what, so for Baltimore, Kansas City needs to lose as many of their three remaining games as possible.

 In addition, Baltimore would need to win five of their remaining seven games, assuming the Comets have lost every game. For every additional KC win, the Blast needs to win another game. It really is that important.

Let’s also factor in their opponents. The Comets play Utica, St. Louis, and San Diego. While each game will have its challenges, Kansas City will like their odds. By contrast, Baltimore will travel to Mexico this week to face Monterrey and Chihuahua. Then, it's Harrisburg, Texas, Dallas, Harrisburg again, and finally Utica. I’m not going to say it can’t happen, but the chances that everything goes Baltimore’s way are extremely slim.

While it may feel like a failure for this team to narrowly miss out on the playoffs, let’s remember the position they were in at the beginning of the season. They won just one of their first five games, but at this point, they haven’t lost more than two games in a row. When it’s all said and done, I believe there will be a few specific results that cost them dearly, namely their back-to-back losses to St. Louis and Harrisburg in January. With those six points, they would be in a much better position with 29 points, just seven off the Comets with four games in hand.

Wins over Kansas City and Utica showed what they were capable of with maybe a bit more consistency and the data backs it up. While they don’t stand out in any one category, Baltimore is slightly above average in a lot of different statistics, including but not limited to goals per shot, opposition save percentage, shots on target per shot, and opposition goals against per shot.

This bodes well for the future and suggests that Baltimore will be back again next year, ready to put together another trip to the playoffs on the back of what will be a more experienced and ready squad, especially if they can sign some new talent to help add a more consistent goal-threat because as of right now, Ricardo Diegues is the only player on the team with more than one goal per game, and he’s only made three appearances.

At the beginning of the season, I labeled this a rebuilding year for the Blast, and while I still believe the shoe fits, this season should be considered a remarkable success whether they make the playoffs or not. Competing with the likes of Milwaukee, Kansas City, and even Utica throughout the season is deserving of some recognition, but not quite yet. They still have some games to win. Catch the first of their two games in Mexico this Friday, Mar. 8, at 9:00 p.m. EST, when they take on the Chihuahua Savage.