Sockers Try to Finish With Title

Times Staff Writer

Thanks to their finishing, the Sockers aren’t finished yet.

Finishing in soccer means scoring. It refers to finishing an offensive play by putting the ball in the net.

In the Sockers’ 7-4 victory over Minnesota Wednesday night in the Sports Arena, they used a fast-paced attack to dominate the game.

San Diego’s seven goals were one more than it had scored in the previous three games. When the Sockers lost 6-1, 7-2 and 4-3, it was as much a lack of offense as a lack of defense.


With their victory Wednesday night, the Sockers trail the Strikers, 3-2, in the best-of-seven Major Indoor Soccer League championship series.

San Diego’s quest for a fifth straight indoor title is still alive.

Game 6 will be played tonight in the Met Center. The Strikers are 12-0 in home playoff games, including 7-2 and 4-3 victories against the Sockers last week.

“If we win tonight,” Socker midfielder Branko Segota said, “there is no way they’ll beat us in San Diego.”

If a seventh game is necessary, it will be played Monday night in the Sports Arena, where the Sockers are 27-1 in playoff games.

Segota had a goal and three assists Wednesday and was able to get back into the team’s offensive flow.

“When we’re not on our finishing,” Segota said, “the other team gets the breaks. We miss opportunities and the other team gets life. The other night (Wednesday) there was more room in the front to operate.”

The Sockers had at least 15 excellent scoring opportunities. And they played the type of offensive game that Coach Ron Newman advocates.

“If you study the indoor game,” Newman said, “there is only one way to play. The faster you play, the more skill you need. The slower you play, the less skill you need. And you should play to your strengths.”

Speed is definitely one of San Diego’s strengths. Therefore, Newman emphasizes attacking.

“When we are coming and going through the bench,” Newman said, “we know we’re at full tilt.”

Newman does not believe that playing the ball back to the goalkeeper and being conservative is the Sockers’ strength.

However, even when the Sockers win and score goals by the bunches, some of the Sockers are still reluctant to accept Newman’s fast-paced offense.

“I always felt that this team was superior to the other MISL teams because we could control the ball,” Socker midfielder Brian Quinn said. “I was never satisfied with the run-and-gun game.

“But I guess you have to play with the tools you have. You can’t build a house with a shovel and a paintbrush.”

Said defender Kevin Crow: “Years ago, we dictated the game. Now we’re going up and down the field with teams. When you play an all-out kind of game, you are never in control of the game. You are never dictating it.

“Because we have talent, odds are we’ll win games. . . What’s frustrating is we’ll have to win the championship that way.”

After Wednesday’s game, Crow said: “I didn’t even feel like I was in the game. All I was doing was running, kicking, fighting and tackling. But we won and that’s the ultimate goal.”

On the Sockers, players don’t agree with the coach on much of anything.

“I think it’s an insult to say we play helter-skelter soccer,” Newman said. “I think there is a lot of discipline playing fast. If our system is not right, then what is?”

The Sockers set a scoring record this season with 308 goals and they also led the league in fewest goals allowed.

But in the past two games in Minnesota, San Diego has scored only five goals.

“You have to make chances,” Newman said. “If you’re not making chances, you have to adjust, but I feel we’re making chances.”

Segota, who has been double- and triple-teamed throughout the championship series, said he needs more room to maneuver.

“I should be the one guy up front and they (teammates) should keep feeding me,” Segota said. “Everyone else plays defense. We haven’t ever done that, but we have to do everything to win.”

Segota said he hasn’t discussed the matter with his teammates.

“They won’t listen to me,” Segota said. “Why waste my breath? I’m too young to get their respect.

“I’ll just play my game, work hard and try to make the key passes.”

And try to be one of the Sockers’ finishers. Otherwise, the Sockers might be finished.

Socker Notes Hugo Perez will not play again in the series after suffering a sprained left knee when he was tripped by Striker forward David Byrne in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s game. . . . Except for Perez, the other 19 players on the Socker roster were taken on the team’s final trip. That includes Guy Newman, Tim Bartro, Raffaele Ruotolo and Kaz Deyna. Coach Ron Newman said he will decide which 16 players will dress after today’s workout.