Sockers Magic: Velez scores with :01 left to beat Dallas 5-4
SAN DIEGO--The San Diego Sockers scored twice in the final :41 of regulation to tie and then beat the Dallas Sidekicks 5-4 in front of a raucous crowd of 4,474 at the Valley View Casino Center. Ze Roberto's rebound goal with 41 seconds remaining tied the game 4-4, and Eduardo Velez put a loose ball behind Dallas keeper Sagu as the final second ticked off the clock in regulation, keeping the Sockers (12-1) undefeated at home in their PASL history.
An emotional head coach Phil Salvagio dedicated the win to his mother Maria Theresa Salvagio, who passed away on Thursday in Florida.
"I know she was watching this game from above, I can't tell you how much this means to me," said a trembling Salvagio after the game.
"We wanted to win this game for her," said veteran defender Antonio Sutton.
A game filled with championship-level emotion and intensity see-sawed back and forth, but the Sockers saved their best for last, scoring four of their five goals in last-second fashion. Velez started the scoring with a rip off the crossbar and home for his 12th goal of the year, a tally with just :21 left in the first quarter. The Sockers led Dallas 1-0 after fifteen minutes.
A wild second quarter filled with hard fouls, argument and physical play opened with Sockers star midfielder Brian Farber receiving a red card for a punch on the field. Dallas converted back-to-back power plays for a 2-1 lead and had a penalty kick shootout for a potential third goal stopped by San Diego goalkeeper Riley Swift. Kraig Chiles scored his 44th goal of the year on a power play header with :20 remaining in the quarter to draw the Sockers level 2-2 at halftime.
After a tense and scoreless third, both teams saw inexplicable errors by their veteran keepers add a goal to each side's total. First, Sockers keeper Riley Swift scored his first goal at any level with 9:08 remaining, when his long ball touched off Sagu's hands and crept behind him softly into the net for a 3-2 Sockers lead. Nick Stavrou answered back quickly for Dallas on his second goal of the game, coming on a deflection just 39 seconds later to equalize at three. With 2:26 remaining in the game, a pass back to Swift at the goal line trickled off his foot and behind him for an own goal, credited to Renato Periera to give Dallas a 4-3 lead.
Pulling Swift for six attackers, the Sockers buzzed the net but could not score until a high ball into the crease caromed off Sagu's leaping clearing attempt and back into the penalty area, where veteran defender Ze Roberto finished for the dramatic strike to tie the game. After the goal the Sidekicks were whistled for their third yellow card of the game, leading to an automatic San Diego power play. With the clock running out, Velez half-vollied home a loose ball from the left elbow to put the Sockers ahead as time expired. Sidekicks legendary player turned head coach Tatu was red carded for on-field dissent as the final horn sounded, bringing a bitter end to his 51st birthday.
"I've never played in a game like this, ever," said an exhausted Velez after the game, "That game was intense."
The Sidekicks (11-3) remain in first place in the PASL's Central Division. San Diego moves on to Anaheim to take on the Bolts Saturday night at 7pm at the Anaheim Convention Center.