March was a tough month for soccer on the border.
The San Diego Sockers came up just short in the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) Western Conference Final, and Club Tijuana received a thumping from Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals.
After a four-game unbeaten run to end the month of February, Club Tijuana picked up right where they left off to begin March, beating Lobos BUAP 3-1. However, the win at Estadio Caliente is still the last victory for Xolos. What is now a run of six competitive games without a win began with a 2-0 loss to New York in Tijuana March 6. The Aztec Canines were unable to bounce back against Tigres UANL, losing 1-0 on the road. Club Tijuana followed up that tough loss with a trip to New York for the second leg of the Champions League Quarterfinals. Xolos grabbed a goal, but the Red Bulls added three more to crush Tijuana 5-1 on aggregate. The border city side was unable to pick up a win in their last two matches of the month, drawing 1-1 with Monarcas and losing 1-0 to Veracruz.
Club Tijuana’s offense went from inconsistent to non-existent in March, with the team only managing to score four goals in six matches and conceding nine. The best part of Tijuana’s offense was forward Miller Bolaños, who scored two of Xolos’ four goals. The strongest part of a weak month for Tijuana, Bolaños is EVT’s Xolos player of the month for March.
Xolos will make their final push to earn a spot in the Clausura playoffs in April, facing a tough match against Guadalajara on April 13 before finishing the season with matches against León April 21, and Toluca April 27.
San Diego Sockers
The Sockers began March with a pair of wins to finish off the regular season, beating Ontario 8-4 and El Paso 10-3. The Sockers entered the playoffs on a seven-game win streak, but fell 5-2 in the first game of their best-of-three series against the Tacoma Stars on March 8. The Sockers won the second game of the series 9-3 two days later to force a deciding 15-minute mini game, which the Sockers won 6-2 to move on to the Western Conference Final. The Sockers traveled to Monterrey for the one-game final. Monterrey, the last team to beat the Sockers in the regular season, won 6-4.
Brandon Escoto was fantastic for the Sockers in March, providing a goal or assist in every game of the month. Escoto’s best performance came against Ontario, when he bagged a hat-trick and added an assist, directly contributing to half of the team’s goals. Escoto tallied eight goals and seven assists, making him directly involved in almost 40 percent of the Sockers’ scoring in March, making him EVT’s player of the month.
While Brandon Escoto scored goals left and right, the most memorable goal of the month came in the second playoff game against Tacoma. Sockers goalkeeper Chris Toth found himself in plenty of space with the ball at his feet and fired a shot into the top corner of the net for his first career goal. Toth’s good month continued, as he was named MASL goalkeeper of the year.
No word has come from either 1904 FC or the United Soccer League (USL) regarding 1904 FC’s February announcement that the club was “finalizing an agreement” to debut in the USL’s 2019 season.
While there was no news from the front office in March, all four of 1904 FC’s player co-owners were in action for their clubs. Majority owner Demba Ba played a full 90 minutes in all three of Turkish club Göztepe’s matches in March and scored three goals. Ba’s Senegalese compatriot Moussa Sow featured in three matches off the bench for Bursaspor, another Turkish club.
1904 FC’s other two co-owners, Eden Hazard and Yohan Cabaye, had a chance to face each other when Hazard’s Chelsea met Cabaye’s Crystal Palace, but Cabaye was sidelined with a groin strain. The Frenchman returned to the pitch for the final two matches in March, including Crystal Palace’s 2-0 win against Huddersfield Town. On the other hand, Hazard was well-worked in March, playing in four matches for Chelsea and an additional match for Belgium, in which he tallied an assist.
Eric, 19, University of San Diego. A soccer player and fan my whole life, I now have the distinct privilege of covering 1904 FC for the East Village Times.