The Las Vegas Legends find themselves in familiar territory as they once again have advanced to the Final Four of the professional indoor soccer playoffs.
The Legends defeated San Diego 7-6 Saturday to make it to the Western Conference finals of the Major Arena Soccer League playoffs. They will face the Monterrey Flash at 3:05 p.m. Sunday in Mexico in a winner-take-all game to advance to the MASL championship later this month.
Last year, the Legends made it to the semifinals of the Professional Arena Soccer League playoffs, losing to Hidalgo, 5-4. Now they’re looking to take the next logical step.
“We’re a hot team right now,” coach Doug Borgel said. “We’re a young, hungry side. The guys have come together as a group after all the changes we made with the roster and these guys really want it.”
With Ivan Campos leading the way, Las Vegas built a 3-0 first-half lead over the Sockers, who had won the Pacific Division. Campos recorded his hat trick in the third period as the Legends grew their lead to 4-2. A fourth-period charge by San Diego pulled the Sockers within 6-5, but Ricardinho scored with 16 seconds left to seal the win and move the Legends into the conference championship game.
“It all came down to preparation,” Borgel said. “We were ready to play from the start and they didn’t get going until the second half. Those three first-half goals proved to be big for us.”
In Monterrey, Las Vegas will be facing one of the MASL’s most experienced teams. The Flash, which went 18-2 during the season, second only to Missouri’s perfect 20-0 season, trounced Dallas 11-1 Sunday in Mexico to move on. Erik Tovar scored six of Monterrey’s goals in the lopsided win over the Sidekicks, and he will be closely watched by the Legends when they meet Sunday.
In the lone regular-season meeting between the teams back on Dec. 21 in Monterrey, the Legends managed to keep Tovar off the scoreboard, limiting him to just four shots, and with Ivan Simental and Freddy Gonzalez leading the way with three and two goals respectively, Las Vegas left Mexico with an 8-6 win.
“I think it does give us an edge,” Borgel said. “We know we can go into their place and win, and so do they. We’re also a better team now than we were back in December.
“They key is going to be getting off to a quick start and keeping them from getting big scoring runs. Dallas gave up a bunch of goals early and they never recovered.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.