Sockers bitten by Dutch Lions, fall 1-0

Danny Riley is unsuccessful on a bicycle kick off of a corner kick in the first half of the Sockers 1-0 loss to the Houston Dutch Lions on Saturday night at Grande Communications Stadium. (Frank Longobardo / Sockers FC)

MIDLAND — Baseball had the “Curse of the Bambino.” Maybe soccer now has the “Curse of Victor Parreiras.”

For the second time in as many games, Parreiras, who played for the Sockers last season, scored Houston’s only goal, leading the Dutch Lions to a 1-0 victory on Saturday night at Grande Communications Stadium.

His goal in the 17th minute was the only offense the Dutch Lions (1-1-1, 4 points) needed to leave West Texas with four points in this two-game series. On Thursday, he scored in the 71st minute to salvage a 1-1 tie for Houston.  Although this marked the first defeat of the Premier Development League season of the Sockers (3-1-1, 10 points), they remain in sole possession of first place in the Mid-South division.

By any measure other than the scoreboard, the Sockers controlled much of the game, outshooting the Dutch Lions, 12-2, and having an absurd corner kick advantage (14-1). In fact, Parreiras’ goal was the first (and nearly only) time during the first half that Houston got the ball inside the 18-yard box.

“If you had told me that we would outshoot a team by 10, have 14 times as many corners as them, and then lose, I’d have said you were a fool,” said Jeff VonHolle, Sockers assistant general manager and director of soccer operations. “The scoreboard does not match what we saw on the field tonight.”

The Sockers controlled the ball for much of the first half, taking 10 shots on goal and having 11 corner kick opportunities. At every challenge, though, they were denied by the Dutch Lions’ defense and goalkeeper Robert Mueller.

In the second half, both teams tightened up defensively, limiting each other’s chances to change the score. They combined for only three shots during the final 45 minutes.

As well, both teams played very aggressively in the second half, and the final 10 minutes of regulation were more about attacking each other rather than the ball. The teams combined for nine cards in the second half, several of which were given during a skirmish on the field that took nearly 10 minutes to control. As a result, Sockers defender Christian de Luna and Houston midfielder Kelvin Iloba were ejected. Both players now face the possibility of suspension by the PDL. Although not technically ejected, Sockers head coach Matt Barnes was asked to leave the field by the center official. 

The win was Houston’s first over Sockers since July 7, 2013, and it was their first win in the Permian Basin since May 23, 2013. Overall, the Dutch Lions recorded their first PDL victory in more than a year (not having won since beating the Laredo Heat, 1-0) on May 24, 2014.

After seeing their potent offensive attack go silent in consecutive games, the Sockers must now regroup before their next match on June 20 against the Heat. The team has a two-week break following a grueling opening stretch of the season that saw them play seven games in just 25 days (including two matches as part of the U.S. Open Cup tournament).

The club, though, refused to use the schedule as an excuse. “Yes, we’ve played a lot of games, but that had no effect on the result tonight,” said VonHolle.

The Sockers’ next game is Saturday, June 20, against the Laredo Heat at Grande Communications Stadium, and the first 400 fans will receive a free T-shirt with their paid admission. 

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