Sockers Hold Off Sidekicks For Road Split
With some late set-piece magic and a renewed call to defend, the San Diego Sockers found their way to a road win at the end of a brutal month away from home.
Kraig Chiles had two goals and an assist, and Brian Farber scored two key goals in the fourth quarter, as the Sockers (13-6) held off a scrappy Dallas Sidekicks side by a 6-4 final on Sunday afternoon at Allen Events Center. Leonardo de Oliveira and Travis Pittman also scored for the Sockers, who finished a 1-2 week away from San Diego.
“It was nice to get out here and get the win,” said Chiles of the result, “We got off to a great start, but the second quarter wasn’t good for us. We need to work on our consistency.”
Worn down by nine matches out of ten on the road, the Sockers have seen their club fall into a scoring rut, and they found themselves in a tight match against a Sidekicks team (2-17) that has lost ten in a row. San Diego jumped out to a 2-0 lead just 92 seconds into the match, as Chiles scored point-blank from five feet away on a centering pass from Cesar Cerda, and Pittman knocked home a wall pass from Eduardo Velez.
The Sidekicks shut out the Sockers for the remainder of the half, and netted twice in the second quarter. Lipe (two goals, assist) snuck in a goal from a tight angle 2:39 into the frame, and Freddy Moojen’s score off a corner kick at 14:18 saw Dallas to a 2-2 tie at halftime.
Leonardo de Oliveira ripped a right-to-left blast into the left side netting of the Sidekicks goal 2:39 into the second half for a 3-2 lead, but Dallas answered back courtesy of Lipe again, this time curving home his 13th goal of the year at 7:40 of the third.
When Dallas keeper Juan Gamboa was shown a blue card for handling the ball outside his crease, the Sockers were awarded a shootout. Chiles made short work of it, slotting home his 19th of the year with a right-footed strike at 11:44. San Diego led 3-2 at the end of three quarters.
The Sidekicks had one more roar remaining, as an unmarked Victor Almendariz knocked in a rebound goal from a foot away at 5:51 of the fourth quarter, knotting the score 4-4. Just under two minutes later, the Sockers had a corner kick and called timeout to plan their attack.
The result? A goal, as Chiles lifted a pass off the boards and in the air to Farber, who was set up on the back post and headed home his 14th goal of the season. Was it the plan? Not at all. The play was designed to get Slavisa Ubiparipovic a shot, but Chiles used his ears to call an audible.
“I think they jumped the gun on our original plan, and I could literally hear them saying to watch the guy (Slav) coming around,” said Chiles of the play, “(Former Sockers) Paul Wright, Aaron Susi and some of the old-school guys have always talked about ‘glancing the ball off the boards’ and I always thought it was B.S. until it worked right there!”
What the Sockers hope they have found that can continue to work is a renewed emphasis on defense in the attacking zone. San Diego sat back for much of the game against the Sidekicks, and were able to smoothly run off the clock in the fourth quarter with the lead.
“We pitched in for each other and defended for each other,” said Chiles, “Our defense was better than it was in the Outlaws game (a 5-3 loss on Friday), but we’ve still got a lot of work to be done.”
The work, at least, can mostly be done from home from now on. After playing ten matches in 31 days, including nine away from San Diego, the Sockers will see four of their final five matches of the regular season at home, with a lone trip to Tacoma on March 13. Arguably the most anticipated match of the season is next up, as the defending champion Milwaukee Wave come to town on Saturday, February 29.
“We usually show up to play against the big teams,” said Chiles, “Milwaukee is a fantastic team, and I’m sure we’ll give them (heck). Hopefully, we sharpen up before then.”
The 7:05pm kickoff at Pechanga Arena San Diego will feature free thundersticks for the fans, and the annual Celebrity Halftime Game. Tickets are available at (866) 799-GOAL, or online at SDSockers.com/tickets.