The long and winding road to the MASL playoffs will take its toll on any team.
For the San Diego Sockers, the road, in particular, continues to be a boogeyman they can’t shake off.
Anthony Powell and Jorge Deleon both had a goal and an assist to pace the Mesquite Outlaws on offense. In contrast, the Sockers offense was kept dormant by a well-structured Mesquite defense, leading the Outlaws to defend their turf 5-3 against the visiting Sockers.
The Outlaws fired the first shots of the evening off of a counter-attack as a pass from Powell set up J.J. Oteze on the right flank of the pitch. Oteze ensuing blast lit up the lamp to signal the first goal of the game.
After not being able to score on a power play, the game was briefly tied up thanks to the clever tricks of Kraig Chiles. On a top-of-the-box reset, the Sockers captain intimidated the Outlaws’ defensive line into flinching before sending a searing strike into the back of the net, tying the game up at one goal each.
After the goal, the game turned into a physical contest, with each team jostling the other for control of the ball. More often than not, it was the Outlaws who came away with the goods. Goals by Cody Ellis and Omar Tapia set the Outlaws up with a 3-1 advantage, but a Travis Pittman goal before the end of the second quarter sliced the lead to just one.
The Pittman goal was the last goal scored by San Diego until the fourth quarter. Despite the Sockers’ defense playing their hearts out, Deleon and Powell scored a goal each to lift the Outlaws above the Sockers one last time.
One last charge came in the final minutes of the game. With six attackers on the field, Leonardo De Oliviera fielded a pass from Eddie Velez to score the final San Diego goal, but the Sockers were unable to break the Mesquite defense in the final minutes of the game.
The road woes for the Sockers have been worrying, but they will soon be done traveling. San Diego has one last game on Feb. 23 against the Dallas Sidekicks and then play four of their last five games at Pechanga Arena.