Sockers Burst Past Stars 10-7 In Season Opener
Back on the road, back in the win column. The San Diego Sockers felt right at home in their Major Arena Soccer League season opener.
Playing their franchise-record eighteenth consecutive match away from San Diego, the Sockers used three-goal scoring bursts in the first, third, and fourth quarters to beat the Tacoma Stars by a final score of 10-7 on Saturday night at access ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington. Brandon Escoto and Juan Carlos “Charlie” Gonzalez each scored two goals with two assists as the Sockers (1-0) opened their Ron Newman Cup championship defense in style.
“It feels great to get this win, especially on the road,” said Gonzalez, a free-agent acquisition from the rival Ontario Fury over the summer, “During training, I’ve tried to see the style (my teammates) want to play, and we’ve been gelling together. These guys are great to play with, great players.”
The Sockers won a MASL title in 2021 playing seventeen matches away from home, including seven Ron Newman Cup playoff matches. Somewhere along the way, they learned how to play through adversity, including seeing their intended leading scorer having to hobble to the locker room early in the second half.
Filling in at forward while regular target Tavoy Morgan was injured for a few minutes in the third quarter, Escoto helped jump-start the Sockers offense after seeing a first quarter 3-0 lead turn into a 4-3 deficit. His run down the right wall helped set up Charlie Gonzalez for the equalizing goal at 9:58 of the third quarter, and Gonzalez returned the favor at 11:35, stealing a pass on high pressure before setting Escoto up for the go-ahead score, a left-footed rocket out of the reach of Tacoma keeper Danny Waltman.
“It was a different position but I’m ready to play where I am needed as long as it benefits the team,” said Escoto, who led the Sockers with 11 goals in 10 matches during the 2021 campaign, “I’m here to do what’s requested of me!”
San Diego scored three goals in a span of 92 seconds in the first quarter to build a 3-0 lead, with Jamie Lovegrove, Tavoy Morgan, and Gerardo Jurado contributing the strikes. After conceding four consecutive scores from Tacoma in the second and third quarters, the Sockers burst forward again, netting three goals in 3:05 to close out the third frame and build a 6-4 lead.
The sixth goal was perhaps the most spectacular, as identical twins Juan and Felipe Gonzalez teamed up on a score that looked like it would require ESP. Challenged in the offensive right corner, Juan rolled a blind back-heel pass directly into the path of his oncoming twin, who rifled a shot past Waltman before leaping into his brother’s arms for a hug.
“It was great, to be honest,” said Felipe of the chance to score off his twin’s pass, “It was too loud to communicate well, but it was fun.”
A wild fourth quarter saw the Stars (0-1) and Sockers score four combined goals in the first 2:23. Jamael Cox started the flurry with a lovely finish of a Vini Dantas back heel pass 31 seconds into the frame. Less than a minute later, San Diego’s Juan Manuel Rojo stole a pass in his defensive zone and sent Escoto up the middle uncontested on a breakaway. Escoto deked Waltman off his feet before calmly scoring inside the far post for his second goal of the night and a 7-5 lead at 1:06.
It was Rojo’s turn to score at 2:11, taking a long through-ball from Mitchell Cardenas and running it to his right before scoring past Waltman’s right leg for an 8-5 advantage. The Stars answered twelve seconds later on Debray Hollimon’s wall pass to Dantas, who netted his second goal for Tacoma.
Charlie Gonzalez finished his sterling Sockers debut at 4:00 of the fourth quarter, working through traffic in the box on a feed from Escoto. The former Fury star pulled the ball from right to left foot between multiple defenders before sending a perfectly placed southpaw strike into the upper-left corner for his fourth point of the game and a 9-6 San Diego lead.
Micheal Ramos scored with the sixth attacker on the field at 14:12 for Tacoma, and Leonardo de Oliveira scored against the sixth attacker at 14:38 to conclude the scoring.
The Sockers return home on Sunday, December 19 to battle the Chihuahua Savage in the 2021-22 MASL home opener at Pechanga Arena San Diego. The club will receive their 2021 Ron Newman Cup championship rings and unveil the club’s indoor soccer-record 15th title banner before battling the Savage in a scheduled 5:05pm kickoff. Tickets are available at sdsockers.com/tickets, or can be purchased without fees by calling (866) 799-GOAL.