Indoor Soccer News: Thirteen-Time Indoor Champion San Diego Sockers Open Season against Surge
The San Diego Sockers open their 2012-13 PASL campaign when they host the Sacramento Surge on Saturday, November 3, at 7:05 p.m. The team will be coming full circle as a franchise, returning to the Valley View Casino Center (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena) to play their home games. The Sockers began their historic run as a professional indoor soccer franchise by packing the Sports Arena in the ‘70s and ‘80s on route to ten championships in eleven years. The Sockers last played at the Sports Arena in a league game on December 18, 2004 against the MISL Cleveland Force.
A perfect 24-0 season in 2011-12 has positioned the Sockers on the precipice of U.S. pro sports history. San Diego has won 37 consecutive matches dating back to their last loss, a 9-8 overtime defeat in Stockton on December 27, 2010. The Sockers’ win streak is the second longest in the history of U.S. pro sports, major or minor league. The five longest professional streaks are:
Sioux Falls Storm (UIF, 2005-2008): 40
San Diego Sockers (PASL, 2010-present): 37*
L.A. Lakers (NBA, 1971-72): 33
Washington Kastles (WTT, 2011-present): 32*
Salt Lake City Trappers (MILB): 29
Since returning to the professional ranks in the PASL, the San Diego Sockers have yet to lose at home. The Sockers carry over from the Del Mar Arena a 24-0 home mark in PASL play, 4-0 in PASL playoff action, 5-0 in U.S. Open Cup contests and 2-0 in exhibition friendlies for a 35-0 total home record.
|Kraig Chiles. Photo Credit: Aaron Jaffe
The Sockers begin 2012-13 with the following streaks intact:
- 37 consecutive overall victories
- 35 consecutive home wins
- 24 consecutive PASL regular season wins
- 15 straight road wins
- 6 straight PASL playoff victories
The Sockers boast both the all-time PASL goals leader and points leader in their lineup as well as three of the four all-time league MVPs in Kraig Chiles and Brian Farber. Chiles set the league single-season goals record in 2011-12 with 46 in 15 games while capturing his second straight MVP, and his 107 PASL regular season goals in 45 games also tops the league. Farber won the league MVP award in 2008-09 with Stockton and took home first-team all-PASL honors last year. Brian’s 154 points in 51 career PASL games is best in league history.
Leading the way for the Sockers are the two most experienced players performing in professional indoor soccer. Team captain Aaron Susi enters his 16th year in the sport as the only player to be a part of all four PASL championship teams to date. Susi crossed the 500-career point mark last season during a 33-point campaign as starting Sockers forward. After a year’s departure to Anaheim, 43-year-old midfielder Paul Wright is back for his 24th year in the indoor game and his third tour of duty in San Diego. “P-3” enters the season 22 points away from 100 career PASL points.
While the Sockers’ average age of 31.3 years easily leads the PASL, the team has welcomed two rookies into the fold for 2012-13, both coming from the San Diego State University (SDSU) men’s soccer program. The Sockers signed midfielder/forward Raymundo Reza and defender Matt Couch to one-year contracts during the offseason, and both are expected to be in the starting lineup immediately. Reza scored 20 goals at SDSU while earning first-team all-Pac 10 honors and was drafted by the MLS Portland Timbers. Couch was selected in the 2006 MLS supplemental draft by the LA Galaxy and brings a steady presence to the San Diego back line.
Veteran defender Antonio Sutton has re-signed with the Sockers for the 2012-13 campaign after playing a limited role with the team during their PASL championship run in 2011-12. Sutton, 38, signed with the Sockers at midseason last year and played in four regular season games along with the PASL playoffs and U.S. Open Cup championship. The 15-year indoor veteran spent three seasons with the now-defunct Stockton Cougars, winning the PASL title in 2008-09 on a team that also included current Sockers Aaron Susi, Brian Farber and Majell Aterado. Sutton was a player/coach in Stockton and brings a wealth of tenacity, experience and skill to the San Diego defense.
|Brian Farber in action. Photo Credit:Aaron Jaffe
The goalkeeper is the last line of defense in the game of indoor soccer, and the Sockers are lucky to have the services of arguably the two best keepers in the PASL. 35-year-old Riley Swift returns for his fourth season as the Sockers’ regular starting keeper, coming off a 10-0 season last year that earned second-team all-PASL honors. In addition, Swift was named the PASL playoff MVP for the second time in four seasons. Behind Swift is 23-year-old Chris Toth, who set a PASL record for lowest goals against average last year at 3.23 in eight games. Toth, son of legendary Sockers goalkeeper Zoltan Toth, is 10-0 lifetime in goal for San Diego.
Returning Sockers defender Dan Antoniuk helped his NASL outdoor team the Tampa Bay Rowdies to their first championship late last month, scoring the equalizing goal in the 85th minute of the NASL Soccer Bowl to send the game against the Minnesota Stars into a shootout. Tampa Bay prevailed 3-1 in penalties, giving Antoniuk, the leading scorer for the Rowdies, his first pro outdoor championship. Antoniuk, part of the Sockers’ “Bash Brothers,” will return to the Sockers shortly for the indoor season.
A busy summer saw the PASL expand from 12 to 19 teams, adding franchises in Sacramento, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Harrisburg, Dallas and Beaumont (Texas), Rockford, Chicago and Rio Grande Valley while seeing the departure of teams from Kansas and Louisville. The league now consists of four divisions of teams, with the Sockers in a Pacific Division featuring Anaheim, Tacoma, Turlock and Sacramento. In a scheduling quirk, the Sockers will only play six regular season games in-division in 2012-13, playing seven games against the new Southwest Division (Las Vegas, Phoenix, Mexico, Arizona).
The Sockers will be without midfielder Majell Aterado for the season after he suffered an ACL tear in his knee during the summer. Midfielder/forward Eric Wunderle will miss at least the first month of the season with an injured tendon in his foot. Defender Diego Rovira is out for this game with a groin strain. Defenders Dan Antoniuk (NASL-Tampa Bay) and John Krause (Puerto Rican National Team) remain away concluding their outdoor commitments. Reserve keeper Chris Toth is on loan to the U.S. Beach Soccer National Team.
The Surge play their first-ever PASL contest on Saturday night. Head coach Jorge Fernandez will also suit up as a starting defender. Juan Flores (midfielder) and Pedro Lupercio (defender) both have previous professional indoor experience. Mike Duarte is the only listed forward for the Surge. Ten Sacramento players hail from south of the border, coming from Mexico, Ecuador, the Honduras and Argentina.
|San Diego Sockers players, management and fans celebrate winning the 2011-2012 PASL Championship.
Photo Credit: Stephen Prendergast
Fans will be able to follow the San Diego Sockers through every game of the 2012-13 season on multiple media platforms. The Sockers agreed to carry a select schedule of 8-11 games on ESPN Radio 1700-AM in San Diego for the second consecutive season, including the home opener. In addition, an audio broadcast of every game will be streamed online at sdsockers.com.
Finally, the PASL contracted with AmericaOne Sports as the official provider of online video streaming in 2012-13. Fans will be able to purchase broadcasts by pay-per-view at $8 per game or $90 for a season pass that covers all PASL broadcasts league-wide. Craig Elsten will call the Sockers action across all platforms for the fourth consecutive season, joined by Tim Strombel as a sideline reporter for home games.
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