Sockers Edge Monterrey Flash in San Diego
The San Diego Sockers recorded their 23rd victory of the season on Saturday night in front of 7,399 supporters at Pechanga Arena. The Sockers clinched home-field advantage with the victory and now wait for their first playoff opponent to be announced.
MASL Soccer News: The San Diego Sockers closed out the 2018/19 Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) regular season with a 7-6 victory over Monterrey Flash on Saturday night. The home victory at Pechanga Arena extends San Diego’s win streak to 21 matches heading into playoffs.
“We’ve been battling,” said Sockers veteran Brian Farber. “Tonight we finished our first goal: home-field advantage in the championship rounds. As long as we keep winning, home-field advantage in front of these fans is amazing. We are definitely proud of that, but now a new season starts tomorrow.”
The Sockers were led by Brandon Escoto and Kraig Chiles who each scored a hat-trick on the night. Landon Donovan tallied two assists for the hosts. For Monterrey, Miguel Vaca scored four goals and one assist while Franck Tayou recorded a brace.
In the third minute, Vaca scored the opener for Monterrey. Edgar Flores served a pass from outside the right corner of the penalty area to Vaca at the back post for the one-time finish.
Escoto scored San Diego’s first tally of the night with a tap-in finish less than a minute later. Leonardo De Oliveira’s shot from a tight angle was blocked and redirected into the path of an unmarked Escoto for the tally.
Chiles recorded his first goal off a free-kick from outside the top of the penalty area. The San Diego captain hit a strike on the ground to beat Monterrey goalkeeper Diego Reynoso.
Midway through the opening quarter, Escoto scored his second of the night with a chipped finish over Reynoso. San Diego held a 3-1 lead heading into the second quarter.
Chiles extended the Sockers’ lead in the second minute of the quarter. Reynoso cleared a ball off the boards that Chiles finished with a one-time, long-range strike.
Tayou cut the lead for Monterrey with under two minutes left of the half. Vaca collected the ball on the left sideline, picked his head up and found an unmarked Tayou at the back post for the tap-in finish.
Twenty seconds later, Vaca capitalized on a failed clearance by San Diego goalkeeper Boris Pardo to bring the match within one. The hosts held a 4-3 advantage at halftime.
Vaca scored his third goal of the night 31 seconds into the third quarter. Flores found an unmarked Vaca on the end line for the one touch and placed finish to the back post.
Hiram Ruiz added his name to the scoresheet for the Sockers with under five minutes remaining of the third quarter. Ruiz collected his own rebound at the top of the penalty area, took a touch past his defender and finished with authority.
San Diego led 5-4 at the end of the third quarter.
The Sockers gained a 6-4 lead with ten minutes left of the match. Without an option, Donovan played the ball back to Chiles at the top of the penalty area. Chiles took two touches and fired a deflected shot into the back of the net.
Two quick goals in a span of 37 seconds brought the match level once again. In the ninth minute of the final quarter, Tayou dispossessed San Diego defender Raymundo Contreras in front of goal and finished as Pardo attempted to get back into his net. Less than a minute later, Vaca took a touch past his defender into the penalty area and scored a tap-in finish for his fourth of the night.
Escoto provided heroics for the Sockers once again with under three minutes left of the match. Juan Gonzalez served a bouncing ball to the top of the penalty area for a left-footed volley and game-winning goal by Escoto.
In recent weeks, San Diego has faced off against several opponents that have clinched a playoff spot or are on the bubble. Although Monterrey eliminated San Diego in the playoffs last season, the Sockers are optimistic that their current squad is built for a championship run.
“We are probably going to face these guys,” said Farber. “They are a really good team. They’ve had our number for the last couple of years. We made some adjustments over the offseason, and we feel that we have the strongest team going into playoffs.”
San Diego now prepares for the 2018/19 MASL Playoffs. The first round will include one home and away match. The Sockers will host its next match on Saturday, April 20, at 7:05 p.m. PT. San Diego’s first-round opponent has yet to be determined.