Sockers Win Big With Help From Tijuana Natives
The San Diego Sockers used a perfect second half to put away the Dallas Sidekicks 8-2 Sunday night at Pechanga Arena. Kraig Chiles’ header goal snapped a 2-2 halftime tie early in the third quarter, and the Sockers (5-0, 14 points) scored six unanswered goals to finish the match.
On a night when the Sockers debuted their new Crossborder kits, the scoreline had a distinct cross-border flair, as three different Tijuanense created goals. Gerardo Jurado netted twice, Christian Gutierrez had two goals and an assist, and Brandon Escoto created three assists.
“It’s an honor,” said Gutierrez of the chance to wear a kit that represents both sides of the border, “There are a lot of Mexicans on our team and we all want to be here, we are here by choice. I am very, very proud to be able not only to represent my city (Tijuana) but also the city of San Diego.”
Having played the night before in Texas, both clubs got little sleep or recovery while negotiating interstate travel on the day of the match. Arriving in San Diego via commercial airline by mid-morning, the two sides showed their fatigue in a heavy-legged first half that ended in a 2-2 tie. The Sockers then put up a 2-0 third quarter and 4-0 fourth quarter to salt away the result.
The win continued a series of streaks for San Diego. The Sockers have now won five straight this season, ten straight against the Sidekicks, and 25 consecutive MASL regular season matches overall. In addition, the club is 42-0-4 in their last 46 matches played in all competitions.
Jurado’s opener at 5:44 of the first quarter was created by Gutierrez’s hard work, as the fittest Socker jumped a bench-wall double team, burst forward, and centered for a point-blank slam by his Tijuana teammate for a 1-0 San Diego lead. The scoreline held through fifteen minutes of play.
The second began with one of the most audacious goals of the MASL season, and a worthy candidate for national highlight honors. Dallas’ Jamie Lovegrove grabbed the rebound of a hard-hit shot by San Diego’s Leonardo de Oliveira and took one look up to see Sockers keeper Boris Pardo off his line. Lovegrove then measured and fired from almost three-quarter field, perfectly arcing a hard-struck ball over Pardo’s head and into the net from almost 150 feet away. The match was tied 1-1, but the goal felt like it could have counted for more.
The Sockers answered with a flurry of attack against Sidekicks keeper Juan Gamboa (17/24 saves). After Gamboa fended off three straight quality chances, Felipe Gonzalez said the fourth time is a charm, ramming home a half-volley from the left wing at 3:38 for a 2-1 lead. A late penalty against Jurado led to a Sidekicks power play, and Gustavo Piedra’s crispy strike into the top-side netting at 14:13 gave Dallas a 2-2 tie to celebrate going into the locker room.
Head coach Phil Salvagio did not excoriate his team for being tied at the half, instead showing steady support for his travel-weary club.
“He didn’t put any pressure on us, he just told us to continue doing what we were doing,” said Jurado of the halftime chat, “He understood that coming from that flight was not the easiest thing to do.”
San Diego dominated possession in a second half that saw them out-shoot Dallas 19-6. Chiles’ calm header of a Guerrero Pino centering pass re-established the lead at 3:27, the captain’s fifth of the season. Jurado knocked in Escoto’s shot-pass on the goal mouth for a slam-dunk goal at 8:20. Juan Gonzalez, Charlie Gonzalez, and Gutierrez each netted in the fourth quarter, with Christian scoring twice. The Sidekicks went to six attackers, successfully challenged a goal, and maintained a valiant effort, but nonetheless fell to 0-6 on the season.
The Sockers will welcome in the Kansas City Comets from the Eastern conference next Sunday for their next match on Animal Friends Night, a 5:05pm kickoff from Pechanga Arena. The club will hold a Pet Adoption Event at 3:30pm on the concourse prior to kickoff in conjunction with several local pet rescue societies. Fans will receive a Sockers and Pets 12-month calendar for attending. Tickets are available by visiting sdsockers.com or calling (866) 799-GOAL.