After a whirlwind bye week involving signing Landon Donavan and introducing him to San Diego, the Sockers could finally go back to playing indoor soccer. Donavan would take in the indoor game from the sidelines as the Sockers squared off with their division rivals, the Ontario Fury, for the fourth time.
In their three matches, San Diego has won all of them by two or more goals. The story didn’t change today as a tense four quarters led to only two goals for the Fury after the latter had scored five and seven in their last two games.
“It’s pretty unprecedented,” said forward Brian Farber after the game. “In this arena, with these guys (the Fury) who can score goals, we were focused on defense.”
San Diego got the ball rolling in the first quarter after a De Bray Hollimon blue card gave them a power play. After converting only 21% of the power plays prior to today’s game, the special teams got a boost from Leo De Oliviera, who was set up right in front of the net to chip in an easy goal on the power play.
After turning 53% of the power plays into goals last season, the 23% they sit at now is second-worst in the league, better than only Mississauga’s 17%. However, the quantity of power plays the Sockers have partaken, 30, is the highest in the MASL. Out of those 30, the Sockers have scored seven times, with De Oliviera leading the team with two power play goals.
The score would remain 1-0 for the rest of the first half, but San Diego has played well in the third quarter this season and today was no exception. De Oliviera and Brandon Escoto broke away from the defense and, smelling a two-man breakaway with only Chris Toth to beat, scored when Toth failed to stop Escoto from taking a pass from his teammate and tapping in a goal.
It was Escoto’s 15th goal of the season and also extended his point streak to four games. After scoring ten goals and six assists in January, Escoto was named as the MASL’s Player of the Month and is currently tied for second place in the MASL for points with 25.
A shot off the boards by Christian Gutierrez took an awkward bounce away from Toth, but waiting to intercept the ball on the bounce was Travis Pittman who, with a powerful left boot, shot the ball through the gap of Toth and the left post to score the third Sockers goal.
However, another common thread for the Sockers soon reared its ugly head; the fourth quarter. Many teams have come back to give the Sockers a scare in the final quarter of play, and today was no exception. The Fury broke the goose egg on the board after Boris Pardo rolled the ball to the feet of Juan Carlos Gonzales, who dumped a pass to Anibal Echeverria. Wasting no time, the forward poked the ball into the back of the net.
The next goal came after Luis Ortega was caught for a blue card after a reckless tackle, gifting Ontario with a power play. Ontario, who was 9-22 on their power plays this season, made it 10-23 after Francisco Cordeiro slipped past the Sockers’ defense to score the second Ontario goal.
Despite a valiant attempt, there would be no Golden Goal overtime today. Pardo made of diving stops in the last minute and a volley from Guerrero Pino trickled into the open net of Ontario for San Diego’s fourth and final goal.
Despite the victory, there is cause for concern. Kraig Chiles went down late in the third quarter with a lower-body injury, specifically holding his hamstring as he laid on the turf. Chiles most likely won’t be playing in the next match against Turlock on Friday, but is considered day-to-day at the moment.he
With the victory, San Diego is now on a nine-game winning streak and own a .917 winning percentage, best in the MASL and outpacing Monterrey’s .750 winning percentage. If the Sockers keep this pace up, they will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.