San Diego California
After playing in Turlock on Friday, the San Diego Sockers (9-0) returned home to finish up the two-game series with the Turlock Express (2-10). Goalkeeper Chris Toth had a fine game by allowing the one goal, and four different Sockers scored two goals en route to a 10-1 victory. Before the game, the team observed a moment of silence for Abel “Shadow” Sebele, a midfielder who played for the team in 2015 who passed away after being hit by a vehicle, and the team played a video tribute on the scoreboard honoring the bright life of Sebele.
The Express, after absorbing a loss at home on Friday, came out of the gate sprinting and playing very physical soccer, even taking down Hiram Ruiz, who had to leave the pitch for a short while with an injury. However, San Diego was just as physical back, and it didn’t take long for captain Kraig Chiles to snag a pass from Luan Oliveira and redirect it right past Turlock goalkeeper Edgar Martinez for a Sockers goal. Jorge Carmona was quick to respond, sending a shot right past the outstretched arms of Toth to tie up the game at one a piece.
The game remained knotted at one for all of sixteen seconds. Brandon Escoto floated a beautiful pass up in the air and Martinez hustled after it, only for Brian Farber to leap into and knock the ball away from Martinez’ outstretched hand and into the back of the net to give San Diego the lead. Turlock was hungry to get back in the game, but each attempt was snuffed out by an imposing San Diego defense. San Diego would have one more goal to add in this quarter as Ray Contreras made it out to look like he was going to slam the ball home. Martinez bit on the bait and slid to protect himself, but in doing so, gave Contreras a golden opportunity to chip the ball over his head as it slowly sailed into the back of the net, giving the Sockers a 3-1 advantage after the first period.
The pace of play was just as rapid in the second period as it was in the first, as Turlock stayed the course of playing scrappy soccer by pushing and fighting for the ball. San Diego wouldn’t let this stand and the two teams jostled for possession of the ball. It would be Ruiz who would score the goal after being set up by a nice pass from Chiles. Ruiz found an open shooting lane and cracked off an impressive shot, bouncing the ball off the post and into the goal to extend the Sockers’ lead. Later on, Oliveira found himself fending off three Turlock defenders and hit a wobbly shot that was deflected by the defense, but it still bounded into the back of the net for another San Diego goal. The score would remain 5-1 heading into halftime.
The third began with quite the bang as nineteen seconds in, the classic combination of Chiles and Matt Clare struck again as Chiles found Clare wide open and number 99 did the rest, nonchalantly flicking a shot over the head of Martinez and extending the lead even further. Turlock, pretty upset at this point after constantly being kicked in the dirt, started to play a bit dirtier than before, shoving and tripping Sockers players, with even the two benches squabbling at one point in the quarter. Things came to a head when Adrian Plascencia slammed right into the back of an unsuspecting Clare and was banished to the penalty box to serve out a blue card penalty. San Diego, which has been deadly on the power play, worked their magic and scored again after Clare snapped a tipped pass back towards the goal.
Jose Barajas, who had been particularly angry throughout the game, tripped up Brandon Escoto after the latter was on a breakaway towards the goal. Barajas was given a blue card for his efforts and the Sockers were given a shootout opportunity, which Chiles handled with ease, rifling the ball past Martinez for yet another San Diego goal, making the score 8-1 going into the final quarter of play.
Turlock switched out their goalie in the fourth quarter and he was immediately put to the test as Erick Tovar began sprinting down the field. He spotted his man in Farber and sent a pass his way and Farber would score in a beautiful way, hopping into the air and, with his back foot, poked the ball into the net for a goal. Turlock would put up a bit of a fight at the end, but a goal by Ruiz and excellent defense commanded by Toth ensured that nothing would come of their desperate struggles, and the Sockers mercifully let the clock run off and left Turlock in the dust as they took the win 10-1.
Chiles called the game “a little bit…physically exhausting” and says that the group’s depth gives some of the veteran members “the opportunity to take a game or two off”, noting that he was able to take Friday’s game off due to his confidence in the reserve players and the other first-team players. Farber said that “it was one of those games where everything was kind of clicking at the offensive end” and was proud of how his team was unselfish with their passing as well as being happy to be back from a minor hamstring injury and being able to play so well, saying “it’s in my nature…to put in 100%, always has been”.
Clare called the win “a collective thing for us” and Oliveira elaborated on the break saying that “even during the break, we were focused on the task (winning a championship)”. Clare mentioned that “we have a pretty cool-headed team…we’re going to frustrate teams” with Chiles agreeing that, while there may have been some hurt feelings coming into the game “we’re all pros…but it’s definitely competitive”. All players agreed that the team is in good shape for the playoffs, with Chiles saying that “we know home-field advantage is going to be huge going into the playoff rounds”.
The Sockers begin a crucial stretch and are back in action Friday, January 12, 7:35 p.m. at Valley View Casino Center as they take on the Tacoma Stars for Military Appreciation Night. The first 1,000 fans will receive a free Cal Coast Credit Union Sockers Camo Hat. This night will also be the first $2 Bud Light Night of the season. As always, parking is free to all who arrive and gates open at 6:00 p.m.. Fans who cannot attend can always tune in to the official MASL YouTube page to watch the Sockers streamed live from the arena.