April 18, 2021, in Ontario, California, is the place where the Sockers and the Ontario Fury last met during the 2021 Ron Newman Cup Finals.
Both teams, physically exhausted from an overtime thriller won by the Fury earlier in the night, step back onto the pitch for a winner take all 15-minute mini-games to determine the champion for the 2021 season. The Fury struck first 8:58 into the mini-game, with the Sockers striking back just 14 seconds later.
Back and forth, the teams went with Clayson de Lima and William Vanzela standing on their heads for the entirety of the mini-game. Fate swung in the Sockers’ favor as de Lima collided with a Fury defender with 91 seconds left and had to leave the game due to the concussion protocol. With 56 seconds left, Cesar Cerda put away what would be the championship-clinching goal and helped place banner number 15 in the rafters of Pechanga Arena, solidifying the incredible season that was 2021.
Last season, the Fury held the advantage over the Sockers with a 3-1 record in regulation games (including playoffs) and winning the last three regular-season meetings between the two teams. Although last season may not have gone the Sockers’ way, overall, the head-to-head records, including playoff matches, have heavily favored San Diego, with the Sockers going 25-7 and 2-0 in mini-games.
Ontario boasts an attack headlined by possibly the greatest forward to play in the MASL (Major Arena Soccer League) era in Franck Tayou, who holds the record for goals in a season with 71 tallies in the 2017-18 campaign. Currently, Tayou sits on 397 career points with 400 a possibility to reach since Tayou averages 2.88 points per game. He’s currently the top scorer in the MASL with nine goals so far in three matches for the Fury.
Chris Toth and Clayson de Lima will also be players to watch. Toth boasts an already legendary career with four championships to his name as a former Sockers player, and de Lima broke out last year and showed the league that he’s ready to take on all comers after posting a 12-5 record and an impressive 5.11 GAA (goals-against average) last season including their playoff run.
San Diego will be coming into the game dealing with some adversity in the last line of defense; however, as Boris Pardo, 2018-19 MASL Goalkeeper of the Year and career 4.91 GAA, will miss Sunday’s clash due to being placed into health and safety protocols.
Currently, it looks like Xavier Snaer-Williams is set to make his professional indoor debut in a huge spot for the club on Sunday, but the Sockers could sign a short-term replacement that would either start or backup Xavier. But as of this article, that has yet to happen.
Charlie Gonzales, who played for Ontario from 2015-2021, will be facing his former team for the first time Sunday. The second-team all-MASL player last year signed as a free agent in the offseason with the Sockers and will be a thorn in the side of the Fury this time around.
This match will be hotly contested, and both teams will be looking to put a stamp of dominance on the early season matchup. Ontario will be looking to get some form of revenge for what happened in April, while San Diego will be trying to break their three-game regular-season losing streak against the Fury. As a supporter for either club, these are the games you circle with a big red circle as soon as the schedule comes out, and the I-15 Derby won’t disappoint.
Tickets for the game are still available and can be bought the day of at the Pechanga Arena box office or at https://www.sdsockers.com/tickets . Alternatively, if you can’t make it and want to watch the game live, you can do so on the MASLtv YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/MASLtv .