Who gets to play?
Yes, the Sockers went out and acquired all of these new players. The main question coming out of training camp is who is going to be on the starting roster?. Currently, there are 20 players listed on the Sockers’ roster, but only 15 players are allowed on the starting lineup come game day. One spot will go to Pardo as he is the starting goalie, while Chiles, Escoto, Ruiz, Farber, and Cerda seem certain to have spots locked down. As for everyone else, it may be a coin toss, or simply a question of match-ups as to who remains on the roster.
Head coach Phil Salvagio remarked that the lineup will look a little different each week and said that “You gotta go by experience. They gotta try and be a good fit”. Cracking a smile, Salvagio laughed and added that he and his staff hadn’t yet figured out who will make it onto the first lineup on the first game.
The starting roster is going to be a little different each game, but Salvagio is confident that he and his coaches will come up with a winning formula at every turn.
The San Diego Connection
In a renewed effort these past few seasons, the Sockers have sought to engage themselves more with the city of San Diego, reaffirming their championship legacy and deep roots with the city itself. With a new logo and ad campaign, the Sockers are spreading their influence across San Diego and beyond. The Sockers have planted billboards, established connections to local businesses, and now boast a podcast hosted by their own Craig Elsten.
Speaking of Elsten, recently named the Chief Marketing Officer for the Sockers, he declared the organization “the legacy brand in San Diego sports” and added that adult fans of the Sockers from the ’80s that sported legends like Juile Veee and Bryan Quinn can now tell their children about the Sockers and get them involved as well. Elsten called their 40th year anniversary “an excellent opportunity to mesh the old and the new.”
The new logo is meant to celebrate San Diego, with the top of the logo featuring the San Diego skyline, with 14 stars in the sky to signify the 14 championships the Sockers have won in their vast history. Representing their heyday of the 1980s and ’90s is the original NASL soccer ball with the iconic “Kicking K” Sockers logo. Written inside the banner are the words “A Legacy of Champions” with the years 1978 and 2018 to the left and right, respectively.
With the coming and going of “Soccer city”, soccer fans can still look to the Sockers as a team that not only provides entertaining and fast-paced action, but prides itself on a deep connection and respect for America’s Finest City.
Players to keep an eye on
Two players that fans should keep an eye on are goalkeeper Boris Pardo and striker Brandon Escoto. With the trade of Toth, Pardo is now “the man” in the box and will look to prove to the MASL that he can handle goalie duties without a platoon partner. He is more than capable of proving that to the league, as he has a career .731 save percentage and has saved 236 shots in 323 attempts.
Escoto is a high-octane striker with a knack for the spectacular. His skills on the field can “break the ankles” of many defenders and his passion for the game translates to success on the field. In the past two seasons, his efforts have culminated in 42 total points with 30 of those coming from goals. With Clare off of the team, Escoto will be expected to step up as the number two scorer, and his skills suggest that he is more than capable of doing that.
The Sockers look much different than they did a year ago. New faces have been added, and how they mesh with the returning players will determine the overall chemistry of the team. But in terms of overall skill?
They are deadly.
With Chiles and Escoto manning the front lines, and an embarrassment of riches concerning depth, Salvagio will enjoy much more freedom to tinker with his lineup and create winning combinations and strategies. The defense, a strength from last year, was bolstered with additional fortifications. They will give the rest of their division a run for the money, but will have to come through in the clutch when it is time for the playoffs.
If everything falls perfectly into place, though, this team has the chance to not only take the cake, but run away with it.