MATCH REPORT // Sockers Race Past Dallas Late

The San Diego Sockerspresented by Kaiser Permanente San Diegoused a 5-0 fourth quarter to out-run the Dallas Sidekicks by a final score of 9-4 on Saturday night at the Allen Event Center. San Diego (4-6) snapped a four-match losing streak and set a season-high for goals in a tuneup for their Ron Newman Cup first-round series next week against Tacoma. 

Kraig Chiles returned to the club in style, netting a hat-trick with two assists for a five-point game. The Sockers captain and all-time leading scorer had been absent from the lineup since February 21 with a lower leg injury. Both of his assists were on the power play setting up Leonardo de Oliveira, who had two goals and an assist. 

I thought our finishing was better today,” said Chiles, We didnt drop our heads when we (fell behind), and we knew we had to bounce back and dig one goal at a time.

San Diego had to dig out of deficits of 3-0 in the second quarter, and 4-3 in the third. The Sockers netted three straight second-quarter goals to tie it, including back-to-back power-play scores by Leo, each time finishing off right post on a cross-field pass from Chiles. 

The power play is about those intricate details, and executing in the final moment, “ said Chiles, who added a shootout goal later, It felt good to come back and make an immediate impact.

Also impactful was a new rule instituted by the MASL in time for the 2021 Ron Newman Cup playoffs: instant replay. Each head coach is allowed one challenge per match, and San Diegos Phil Salvagio made league history with the first successful challenge reversal. What was originally ruled a foul on the Sockers’ Tavoy Morgan was reversed to a top-of-the-arc free-kick for San Diego. 

It was a clear foul,” said Salvagio, and so thats what the decision was (to challenge), and we won. I still think it should have been two minutes (a blue card) though.

Moments later, Dallas’ Simon Bozas attempted to challenge a blue card against the Sidekicks, and was unsuccessful in his challenge. The Sockers scored on the subsequent power play on the first of the two Leo strikes. 

A frustrating start to the game saw San Diego dominate the opening minutes without scoring, before falling into a late-quarter funk. Dallas’ Julio Varela netted a pair of goals in the run of play, sandwiching a short-handed golazo from Kristian Quintana in the opening twelve seconds of the second quarter. 5:28 into the frame, the Sidekicks were up 3-0. 

San Diegos comeback began with Tavoy Morgan working hard in the attacking right corner and banging a shot off the glass. The rebound deflected off a Dallas defender into the net, and Morgan had his third goal and fourth point in three games with the Sockers at 6:28, making it 3-1.  

The Leo goals at 11:03 and 14:17, both coming on crossing passes from Chiles in the left corner, put San Diego at level terms going into the half, 3-3. Freddie Moojen took advantage of a Sockers turnover and found himself unmarked on the low right-wing, finishing past William Vanzela at 4:27 of the third quarter for Dallas’ final lead of the match, 4-3. Chiles’ shootout goal at 13:35 of the quarter re-established a tie, coming off a blue card against Sidekicks’ keeper Juan Gamboa for a handball outside the box.

Slavisa Ubiparipovic, returning to the lineup for the first time since February 21, made his presence felt with back-to-back assists in the fourth quarter, first spotting Escoto with a wall pass from the yellow line on the near post. Escoto poked the ball past Gamboa for his team-leading 11th goal of the season and a 5-4 lead at 2:34 of the fourth quarter.

Minutes later, Slav spotted Chiles creeping out on the right wing to create space, and drew the defense in with a run up the middle before slotting the ball to Chiles for the finish and a 6-4 advantage at 6:39. A restart near the right post finished the hat trick at 9:28, as Chiles hesitated before rolling the ball between the legs of a moving defender. 

Dallas went for a sixth attacker with 5:36 remaining, and surrendered a long empty-netter to Cesar Cerda at 9:50, shot from beyond mid-field. Leo set up Christian Gutierrez for another empty-net goal at 13:47 to conclude the scoring. 

With the 2021 regular season concluded, all seven participating teams now advance to the Ron Newman Cup playoffs. The fifth-seeded Sockers and sixth-seeded Tacoma Stars (4-7) will meet in a best-of-three series, played at neutral-site Toyota Arena in Ontario, California. Game 1 will take place on Friday, March 26, and Game 2 on Sunday, March 28. If a third and deciding game is needed, a one-quarter mini-game will be played after the conclusion of Game 2. All games can be watched on MASL pay-per-view on