Leo Leads Sockers Past Dallas To Start Texas Trip
Charlie and Felipe Gonzalez scored two goals apiece and Leonardo de Oliveira added three assists as the San Diego Sockers rode past the Dallas Sidekicks 7-4 on Thursday night at the Credit Union of Texas Event Center in Allen, Texas. Tavoy Morgan added a goal and two assists, helping the Sockers (12-1, 35 points) improve to 2-1 on their current six-match road trip, with another contest looming Saturday in Mesquite against the contending Outlaws.
The Sidekicks (0-12-2, 2 points) welcomed the return of Panamanian former World Cup star Blaz Pérez, who scored a hat trick in his second match played for Dallas, but the striker’s output could not prevent a club-record 15th straight loss. San Diego won their eleventh in a row overall against the Sidekicks, improving to 11-1 all-time in the MASL.
The Sockers played without four key regulars, as captain Kraig Chiles (coaching duties), defensive captain Cesar Cerda (one-match suspension), and midfielders Brandon Escoto (two-match suspension) and Hiram “Pollo” Ruiz (injury) were all unavailable for selection. The absences opened up playing time for other players, and Christian Gutierrez was waiting to take advantage for the first goal of the night.
After a top-arc free kick was awarded to San Diego for a delay of game defensive clearance, the Sockers had Charlie Gonzalez on the ball, Chiles’ usual spot. He passed to the corner to Morgan, who slammed a shot-pass off the wall inches from the net. The ball caromed out to Gutierrez, who put his laces through a wicked shot at a tight angle, sneaking the ball under the crossbar for his 13th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead at 6:01 of the first quarter.
Another player who benefited from the open lineup slots was Gerardo Jurado, who drew in for the first time since January 22. Later in the quarter, Jurado made a nifty tackle on an attacking Dallas player, starting a 3-v-2 the other way. Working the middle of the field, Jurado drew in the defense before laying the ball off to Morgan in the corner, who immediately crossed to a wide-open Charlie Gonzalez for a back post tap-in and a 2-0 lead at 8:50.
Then, it was time for the Blaz Pérez show. First, a point-blank goal in the crease at 9:54 after Jamie Lovegrove turned the ball over from Morgan, who was trying to pass through the veteran’s legs. Next, on an inch-perfect blast into the upper-right corner of the net off a left-wing set piece at 11:03, an unstoppable left-footed volley. Suddenly, the match was tied 2-2.
Defending MASL “Pass Master” (assists leader) Leonardo de Oliveira was just getting warmed up, though. The Sockers’ midfielder collected three assists before halftime arrived, tying Kansas City’s John Sosa for the league lead. The first came on a perfect through ball to Felipe Gonzalez, taking three Dallas defenders out of the play. Felipe took one touch around Sidekicks keeper Juan Gamboa and calmly deposited the goal for a 3-2 lead at 12:31, a score the Sockers would take into the quarter break.
Misfortune struck in the first ten seconds of the second frame on an own goal, a Lovegrove set piece that deflected off Felipe Gonzalez’s leg into the goal for a 3-3 tie. Just 24 seconds later, the Sockers were back in front, this time for good. After a midfield steal, Brian Farber was sent in free on the left wing. He spotted Felipe with a better angle and gave him the ball in the crease for his second straight goal and a 4-3 lead. Gonzalez has four goals on the season, all against the Sidekicks.
San Diego finished the half with three more scores. Charlie Gonzalez laced a curving shot past Gamboa on a power play after the Sidekicks were shown a blue card for too many men on the field, with Leo on the setup. Leo fed in Juan Manuel Rojo for his now-patented left wall speed burst and a toe-poke goal, his fourth of the season. Finally, Tavoy Morgan felt a defender too close to his right hip on a post-entry pass and turned toward net, smashing his 14th goal of the season past Gamboa at 12:25. The Sockers took a 7-3 lead into the halftime locker room.
Frustrated with his team’s defensive play, Dallas head coach Ricardinho put his team in a much more defensive posture in the second half, and the Sockers responded with patient possession but failed to convert any of their chances. The third quarter went scoreless and so did much of the fourth. San Diego keeper Boris Pardo, who picked up his league-leading 12th win of the season, gave way in the fourth quarter to backup Xavier Snaer-Williams, who stopped four of five shots against him as the Sidekicks went to a six-attacker formation. The lone goal came on a 6-v-4 situation after Sockers defender Mitchell Cardenas was shown a blue card following a replay challenge for unsportsmanlike conduct. Pérez followed his own blocked shot in the crease for his hat trick goal at 12:21, the lone goal of the second half.
The Sockers used their match-in-hand over Chihuahua well, improving to a five-point lead in the MASL Western Conference. San Diego’s next match is at the Mesquite Arena on Saturday night against the Mesquite Outlaws (9-3-2), a 5pm PST kickoff from Texas. The match can be viewed live on Twitch on channel @masl_soccer. San Diego returns home on Saturday, March 4 to take on the Sidekicks for the fourth and final time this season. Tickets are available by calling (866) 799-GOAL or visiting sdsockers.com.