Sockers Down Sonora As Velez Tallies Twice
Eduardo Velez scored a pair of goals, playing heavy minutes in place of the injured Kraig Chiles, as the San Diego Sockers won their third straight contest, a 6-3 Sunday night victory over Soles de Sonora at Pechanga Arena San Diego. Free-agent acquisition Diego Arriaga made his first start of the season in net, making six saves for his first win with San Diego (3-1).
The Sockers saw team captain Kraig Chiles pull up with 7:51 remaining in the first quarter with what was described after the match as a mild hamstring injury. Chiles is week-to-week.
With their captain down, the Sockers turned to a veteran two-man tandem at forward, with Leonardo de Oliveira and Velez subbing for one another. Velez got the scoring started at the 9:24 mark of the first quarter, collecting his own blocked shot between two defenders before beating keeper Angel Rubalcava with a low shot inside the left post.
Velez celebrated, as he has occasionally throughout his career, with a “sombrero dance”, borrowing a giant sombrero from a season ticket holder and dancing around it at the center circle. A wrinkle in the presentation came when Eddie welcomed his young son “Lalito” down from the stands to join him in the dance.
“It’s a special moment,” said Eduardo of his dance, “I said to him last night, ‘Hey dude, what’s up? If I score a goal tomorrow will you celebrate with me?’ and he jumped off his bed and started doing the dance, and then thank God he did it with me.”
The dance was also witnessed by the Soles, who had to stand in position and watch. The level of intensity picked up quickly, as Sonora slotted a rocket shot by José Antonio Cruz at 10:37 to tie the match 1-1, and added a power-play goal by top scorer Enrique Cañez less than thirty seconds later for a 2-1 lead. The advantage held through the first quarter break, but the Sockers ratcheted up their attack from there, out-shooting the Soles 25-8 the remainder of the match. Working on the power play after a boarding penalty against Sonora, Hiram “Pollo” Ruiz accepted a perfect cross lifted by de Oliveira across the frame, smashing a side volley strike from left angle into the back corner of the net with ferocity, scoring his second goal of the year at 11:37 for a 2-2 tie.
San Diego pressed their advantage, scoring twice in the next seven minutes. Brandon Escoto, facing quick and regular double teams from the Sonora defense, stayed with his own shot and found the ball back to Luis “Peewee” Ortega at the top of the crease, who rolled home his second score of the year just past the hand of Rubalcava near the left post.
Later, a midfield steal sent defender Guerrero Pino and Escoto in on net 2-on-0. With a series of back-and-forth passes, Pino sent his final cross over to Escoto on the left post. Midfielder Irving Murillo challenged Escoto on the play and the ball was pushed into the net, with Escoto credited with the goal. Tangled on the play with both on the floor, Murillo sent what the Sockers thought was a punch into the midriff of Escoto, and moments later Taylor Bond and Sonora’s Andrew Miller got into a shoving match that saw seven minutes of penalty for both players. San Diego took a 4-2 lead into halftime.
Velez’s second score of the night came on a clinical finish in the crease of a Brian Farber distribution from the right wing, with the veteran midfielder recovering the ball just seconds after he nearly converted a flying spectacular bicycle kick from the right wing. The ball hit about two inches up the crossbar. Hustling back to win the ball, Farber made a first-time pass to Velez in the middle of the crease for a simple finish and a 5-2 lead at 7:07.
Sonora (1-4) never wilted in the contest, pulling one goal back on Xavier Berreras’ goal at 9:44 of the third. Farber finished an odd-manned rush on a Cesar Cerda assist 1:12 into the fourth quarter to conclude the scoring. Farber has a four-game goal-scoring streak.
The Sockers head on the road on Friday, December 20, to take on the 3-1 Cal Express from Turlock, before returning home on Sunday, December 22 to take on the Tacoma Stars for another 5:05pm kickoff. Tickets are available for the Holiday Night and Trading Card Giveaway match by phone at (866) 799-GOAL, or online at SDSockers.com.