by John Philip Wyllie
While the veteran trio of "Chile" Farias, Renato Pereira and Mariano Bollella played a part in most of the eight goals scored in Sunday's 8-2 rout of the second place Dallas Sidekicks, two young, up and coming players from the local Mexican community contributed key first quarter goals Sunday night that enabled the Sockers to bury the Sidekicks early.
Tijuana's Tony Velazquez scored the game's second goal with just two minutes and 53 seconds expired and Ramona's David Beltran closed out the first quarter scoring with the team's fourth unanswered goal at the 9:17 mark. The Sockers eventually ran the score up to 6-0 before the stunned Sidekicks finally tallied one of their own, but by then it was far too late to mount a comeback.
"We played with a lot of energy tonight," said Sockers coach, Brian Quinn. There are a few things that we need to keep working on, but it is nice to be in this position at this point in the season."
That position would be first place in the five-team WISL standings. With the regular season moving into its final month, the Sockers appear well positioned to add what would be their 11th championship banner to the Sports Arena rafters. While they depend heavily on the aforementioned veteran trio of Farias, Pereira and Bollella to provide offensive spark, players like Velazquez and Beltran continue to improve. "I'm just glad that they (Velazquez and Beltran) are Sockers," Quinn said. "They are both good young players."
With the Sockers league-leading offense combining for a whopping 90 goals in their first fifteen games, the Sockers defense, which is also ranked first with just 67 goals allowed, often gets overlooked. Former Sockers defensive stalwart and current assistant coach, Ralf Wilhelms has focused much of his attention on that defense. One name keeps popping up - that of defender, Alejandro Cardenas.
"Alejandro has been a great addition for us. He comes from the Pumas school in Mexico and he took over the role as a new player coming in to lead and guide the team. I think he does a tremendous job not only as a player, but in directing the team as well ," Wilhelms said. With Cardenas coordinating the backline and the outstanding Dezso Horvath in goal, the Sockers can usually defuse even the most potent attacks.
"When a team like Dallas only scores two goals against us, you know that the defense has done something right," Wilhelms explained. "The defenders make the difference. They give our goalkeeper the opportunity to make the great saves like he did tonight and Alejandro is the best defender we've got."
Following a two game road trip, the Sockers return to their Sports Arena home on Friday, November 9 when they face the St. Louis Steamers. Kickoff is slated for 7:05.