The 2022/2023 MASL season has begun, and the San Diego Sockers will kick off their quest for a three-peat and a 17th title in franchise history this Saturday, December 10, against the newly rebranded Empire Strykers (Ontario Fury).
Coach Phil Salvagio and the Sockers look to put one last title in the trophy case at Pechanga Arena before their move next season to their new arena in Oceanside- Frontwave Arena.
The Sockers boast a largely unchanged roster this season with one major addition, Hiram “Pollo” Ruiz received his full-time P-1 working visa and is approved for the season. Due to these issues, Ruiz was only able to play in three games last year during the season and postseason. A key contributor and impact player to bolster an already historic roster, Ruiz will be looking to make up for lost time this season.
One day the number 37 will hang high in the rafters of Frontwave Arena, but right now, the fans and supporters of the Sockers are blessed to be able to watch Kraig Chiles and his legendary career continue to unfold in front of their eyes. With a franchise record of 435 goals to his name already, captain Chiles will be looking to add to that this year.
Something that has been on the upswing in the later part of Chiles’ career is the number of assists that he’s been able to contribute. Last season, Chiles recorded 19 assists which is his most in a season since recording 27 back in 2015/16. Drawing in defenders and laying off to open teammates, akin to Aaron Susi, has helped the Sockers on offense tremendously and has been a key reason why they’ve been able to raise the Ron Newman Cup the last two years.
Rivals new and old will be challenging the Sockers for the top spots in the Western Conference in the 2022/23 edition of the MASL as the Tacoma Stars, Chihuahua Savage, and Dallas Sidekicks all return. The Mesquite Outlaws and Monterrey Flash make triumphant returns to the MASL this season after being on hiatus due to COVID-related travel restrictions. Rounding out the West is the previously mentioned Empire Strykers, formerly known as the Ontario Fury.
The Sockers’ schedule is loaded with six matchups against the Stykers, as well as seeing the Milwaukee Wave visiting Pechanga once again. Legacy rivals, the Dallas Sidekicks, will square off with the Sockers four times, including a brutal home and home weekend on January 7 and 8. Other Eastern Conference foes San Diego will be playing include a two-game road trip in Harrisburg and hosting the Kansas City Comets.
The path back to the Ron Newman Cup will be tough and fraught with difficult back-to-back games. If the Sockers can replicate the form they played with last season, there may be a 17th banner raised on opening night in Oceanside to christen a new arena.