The Sockers entered the season with two defenders who really didn’t know anything about indoor soccer. David Banks and Alex Golovnia are learning.
Partly because the two have adjusted their strategy, the Sockers have won four in a row at the Sports Arena, the latest coming Sunday night, 5-4, in overtime over the Dallas Sidekicks, who have now lost 16 of 17 games here.
The adjustment? Socker defenders, after taking a tip from Kevin Crow, are playing in front of the opposing team’s forwards, rather than behind them.
The adjustment came the week before the Sockers began their four-game winning streak.
“We have some new guys playing defense,” Crow said. “And they’re doing very well, but sometimes they position themselves like an outdoor defender (behind the opposing forwards). It just took them a few games to learn to do it the right way, to break their old habits.”
And because the Sockers defenders have broken their habits, the Sidekicks made some dubious additions to their record books in Sunday’s loss.
Dallas managed only two shots in the first half, which is the second fewest in a half in the Major Soccer league’s 13 seasons.
They took only five more in the second half. Their total of seven regulation-time shots is the fewest ever attempted in the MSL. They were outshot by the Sockers, 30-10, in the game.
Still, they took the Sockers into overtime by connecting on 57% of their shots.
“Some basketball teams would have been happy with that,” said Billy Phillips, Dallas coach.
But Phillips wasn’t happy with it. He was even less pleased when his Sidekicks failed to take a shot during a two-minute power play in overtime.
Sharing Phillips’ concern was goalie Joe Papaleo.
“I know if (the Sockers) had a power play, they would have shot,” he said.
About two minutes after the power play expired, Socker midfielder Paul Dougherty did take a shot. He ran on to a loose ball in the Dallas end some 20 feet from the right post and banged it off the crossbar and behind Papaleo to end the game.
“Paul did exactly what a good forward should do in overtime,” Papaleo said. “He shot.”
Dougherty was somewhat surprised it went in.
“It was a bad angle,” he said. “I didn’t even have time to think about it--I just took one step and hit it.”
Waad Hirmez sent the game into overtime when he connected on a free kick from just inside the red line and along the left boards.
Before Hirmez left-footed it into the right side of the net, midfielder Michael Collins took a dummy run and acted as though he was going to take the kick. That opened a lane to the goal that Hirmez found.
With that, Hirmez erased Dallas’ one-goal lead that was forged with three unanswered goals.
It was also Hirmez who scored the game’s first goal. His two on the night, combined with four in Friday’s 10-3 victory over Cleveland, gave him six in two games.
That first goal came nine minutes into the first period after Hirmez took a pass off the end boards from Brian Quinn.
There was no scoring after that until nine minutes into the second period, when Paul Wright took a pass from Quinn and pushed the ball along the carpet to Papaleo’s right.
Not even a minute later, Dallas answered. Kevin Smith sent a bank pass off the left-end boards to Tatu at the right post. Tatu used his right instep to tuck the ball into an unguarded net as goalie Victor Nogueira was out of position.
The Sockers went up 3-1 a minute into the third quarter when Soviet import Alex Golovnia, inside the penalty area, first-timed a crossing pass from Wright and sent it just below the crossbar.
After that, Dallas reeled off three goals, one from each Pedro DeBrito, Tatu and Mike Uremovich.
Only once in the Major Soccer League’s history has a team taken fewer shots in a half than Dallas did Sunday--and that was also against the Sockers. In 1986 the Minnesota Strikers took only one shot against San Diego in a half. By aiming on goal only twice during the first 30 minutes, the Sidekicks knocked the Cleveland Crunch from No. 2 on the list to No. 3. That is noteworthy because Cleveland joined the list Friday night when it took only three shots in the first half against the same Sockers. . . . The Sidekicks also set the record for fewest shots in regulation. The previous low was nine and that was done twice, first in 1983 when Wichita had little ammunition against the New York Arrows and again in 1987 when Kansas City could not get untracked against San Diego