SD/TJ Soccer February Review: Moving on Up

Credit: Xolos

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Photo courtesy of San Diego Sockers

The last week of February gave soccer fans in San Diego plenty to celebrate.

Club Tijuana defeated Honduran team Motagua to reach the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, the San Diego Sockers will begin their hunt for a fifteenth MASL title this month, and 1904 FC is in the process of joining the USL to begin playing in 2019.

Club Tijuana

The Aztec Canines ended an up-and-down February by slipping past Motagua 2-1 on aggregate to set up a quarterfinal confrontation with the New York Red Bulls. Los Xolos won the away leg 1-0 before drawing 1-1 with the Honduran side in Tijuana. The away win was one of only two the border city club earned in February, the other being a 4-1 upset of a strong Pumas UNAM side at Estadio Caliente. The win was an offensive exception for the club, which only managed to score six goals over seven matches – the same amount of goals the team conceded.

The low goals against tally was thanks to goalkeeper Gibran Lajud, who set a Liga MX record for consecutive minutes without conceding a goal during the club’s 2-0 loss to Querétaro on February 9. The record, combined with Lajud’s standout performances in the Champions League and against Club America in Mexico City, make him Xolos’ player of the month.

Following the border city team’s 3-1 win on March 1, Tijuana will host New York Red Bulls in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals March 6 (Loss 2-0). The second leg is at Red Bull Arena March 13.

San Diego Sockers

San Diego’s most decorated professional sports team won all five of their matches in February and will begin the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) playoffs Thursday March 8 against the Tacoma Stars. The Sockers outscored their opponents 39-15 in February, including a 10-3 away win over the Stars on February 9. Sockers captain Kraig Chiles led from the front, contributing 15 points by way of nine goals and six assists in the month of February. Midfielders Brandon Escoto and Brian Farber added an additional 17 points combined, with Escoto grabbing five goals and five assists. Farber scored six goals and assisted another. However, Matt Clare’s strong performances at the end of the month, including a hat trick in the Sockers’ 13-3 win over Rio Grande Valley, make him EVT’s choice for Sockers’ player of the month.

Looking ahead to the playoffs, the Sockers are favorites in their first match-up. San Diego is undefeated against Tacoma this season, outscoring the Pacific Northwest side 30-12 through four matches. The first match of the best-of-three series is in Tacoma before the teams come to San Diego for the second match (and third if necessary) on March 10.

1904 FC

San Diego’s newest soccer team announced that they were “finalizing an agreement” with the United Soccer League (USL) to join the league and begin playing in the 2019 season. The announcement came at the end of a nearly news-free month, but proved worth the wait. General Manager and Director of Football Operations Alexandre Gontran will be live on the club’s Facebook page March 9 at 10 am to talk about “what’s next for 1904 FC”.

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