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Dallas Gets Physical, Sockers Get Bruised

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Dallas Sidekicks served the Sockers a heaping portion of Texas-style soccer Saturday. There were elbows for elbows and bruises for bruises.

Socker Coach Ron Newman can do without seconds.

“There was no game,” said Newman, whose team lost, 6-1, in Game 2 of the Western Division finals in Reunion Arena. “That was a series of bloody free kicks. I think they kicked us out of our game.”

In doing so, the Sidekicks evened the best-of-seven series at a game apiece. Games three, four and five will be played in San Diego starting Friday night.

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What happened was that the referees decided to get more involved in this one following a meeting with MISL Commissioner Earl Foreman, who told them there were too few penalties in the Sockers’ 4-2 victory Friday. There were no power plays Friday. Saturday the Sidekicks had five, the Sockers three.

The Sidekicks worked through it nicely, the Sockers stumbled.

“I think that was more Dallas’ style tonight,” midfielder Brian Quinn said. “I think that’s their game to play hard and physical. That’s what we’re going to face.”

So the referees cost the Sockers the game?

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“No,” Quinn said. “I just think Dallas played better than us. I think it gave us an eye-opener of what to expect in San Diego.”

The Sidekicks grabbed the lead late in the first quarter when forward Willie Molano fired a shot off the crossbar that bounced back off defender George Fernandez’s head and into the goal. Four seconds remained on the Sidekicks’ power play.

After a goal early in the second quarter by forward Steve Kinsey made it 2-0, the Sidekicks were awarded another power play when midfielder Jacques Ladouceur was called for tripping with 50 seconds remaining in the half. The Sockers survived until halftime, but Dallas capitalized during the remainder of the power play in the third quarter when midfielder Kevin Smith sent one into the upper right corner.

Less than three minutes later, Molano scored his second goal from the goal mouth off a nifty pass from Tatu. That made it 4-0 and was a nice spirit-elevator for Molano, who blew an easy chance Friday that would have given the Sidekicks a two-goal advantage and likely would have changed the outcome of the game.

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“I had a very hard time sleeping (Friday) night,” Molano said. “I went home and talked about it with my fiancee and she said ‘Whatever happened last night, put it behind you. Tonight’s a different game.’ And she was right.”

Perhaps nothing indicated the Sockers’ misfortune better than the Sidekicks’ final goal, 5:45 into the fourth quarter. The Sockers had gone to a sixth attacker and Quinn was retreating on a ball cleared across the length of the carpet. Sidekick forward Roderick Scott caught up with him and deflected his pass into the right corner. Scott scored Dallas’ fifth goal, too, after midfielder Waad Hirmez scored the Sockers’ only goal late in the third quarter.

Though held without a goal, Tatu had two assists, ending a streak of 213 minutes and 42 seconds without a point against the Sockers. Goalie Zoltan Toth’s string of nine consecutive playoff victories also ended. Toth, who made 15 saves, won all three of his starts in the semifinals against St. Louis.

All in all, it was a fairly miserable evening for the Sockers, who appeared to be picking up momentum after Friday’s victory. There was speculation afterward that they would have done better with a more defensive strategy.

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“We came out with the wrong game plan,” defender George Fernandez said. “We should have just dropped back. What we did is come out right away and high-pressured. That opened up the field for them.”

That allowed the Sidekicks to shake the rust off their soccer shoes.

“The intensity was up from the opening kickoff,” Sidekick Coach Billy Phillips said. “During the 20-day layoff, we had forgotten what the intensity of a real game was like. We worked extremely hard in practice, but you can’t simulate a game.”

Series Notes

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Defender Kevin Crow suffered a pulled stomach muscle and played sparingly during the second half. His status is uncertain for Game 3 Friday in San Diego. . . . Coach Ron Newman was given a yellow card in the first quarter for arguing with the referees.


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