Ironman Medina back for seventh season with San Diego Sockers

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The San Diego Sockers are back for another season and so is the team’s ironman, Anthony Medina.

Medina, the former Valhalla High School soccer standout, was in the line-up – and scored a goal – in the Sockers’ 7-5 victory over the expansion Soles de Sonora club from Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Valley View Casino Center.

The San Diego Sockers are back for another season and so is the team’s ironman, Anthony Medina.

Medina, the former Valhalla High School soccer standout, was in the line-up – and scored a goal – in the Sockers’ 7-5 victory over the expansion Soles de Sonora club from Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Valley View Casino Center.

Medina scored off a nifty goal crease pass in the third quarter to give the Sockers a 5-4 lead after the first-year Mexican team had shocked many of the 4,033 in attendance with a goal just eight seconds into the contest. In fact, the Sonora club proved difficult to shake until the Sockers finally managed to grab a two-goal lead early in the fourth quarter.

The game was the first of 20 regular season Major Arena Soccer League matches for both teams. The Sockers rematch with Soles de Sonora on Nov. 7 in Hermosillo before returning to host the Ontario Fury on Nov. 21.

The Sockers, Sonora and Ontario are rivals this season in the realigned Pacific Division along with the Tacoma Stars and Dallas Sidekicks.

Medina is playing his seventh season with the Sockers. He is an original member of the Sockers’ third incarnation team and has won four league championships with the team and eight championship trophies overall.

There’s a good reason that Medina has earned his ironman nickname. The six-foot-one, 185-pound attacking midfielder was in the line-up for all 48 games when the Sockers set a new American professional team sports for consecutive wins.

The Sockers defeated the SD Fusion, 7-5, on Dec. 29, 2010, and piled up 48 straight wins – along with two Professional Arena Soccer League championships, two U.S. Arena Soccer Open Cup championships and a FIFRA club championship title – over parts of three seasons and four calendar years before finally dropping a 6-5 overtime match in Dallas on Jan. 27, 2013.

The previous record was 40 games set by the Sioux Falls Storm, an arena football team from 2005 to 2008.

The 48-game winning streak is a remarkable feat, and Medina remains a remarkable player. He was the only Sockers player to play in all 48 of those games.

At 36, he still pulls regular shifts on the floor. Last season, he played in all 20 games, netting nine goals and five assists. It was the fourth consecutive season that Medina had played in every game.

Entering this season, he had appeared in 97 career games with 74 goals and 48 assists for 122 points.

An All-West Coast Conference selection and team MVP while playing collegiate soccer at the University of San Francisco, Medina is looking to win another championship ring with the Sockers. He said the lure of a championship ring still motivates him to return to the playing surface.

“It’s always something to look forward to, winning another title,” he said.

Medina is now balancing his indoor soccer career with being a licensed real estate agent and YMCA youth volunteer.

The great indoors

The Sockers are among 21 MASL teams this season. The team won the Pacific Division last season with a 16-4 record but fell to the Las Vegas Legends, 7-6, in the division championship playoff game.

It was the Sockers’ first home playoff loss in six seasons.

The Sockers franchise has won 14 indoor league championships during its three incarnations, including four with the current group. The Sockers won four consecutive PASL titles from 2010 to 2013. The PASL merged with the Major Indoor Soccer League last season to form the MASL.

The Sockers also won the U.S. Arena Soccer Open Cup during the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons besides the FIFRA club championship in 2012.

Team management feels the team is ripe to win another title in 2015-16.

“Losing in the playoffs two years in a row has prompted us to make a lot of changes,” Sockers head coach Phil Salvagio explained. “We brought in seven new players to compete and almost everyone is returning. So it’s better competition. The players will need to fight every day to get on the game day roster.”

Medina isn’t the only celebrated Sockers player. Teammate Kraig Chiles, a Poway High School and SDSU alum, scored two goals in the win over Sonora to boost his career mark to 248 goals. The three-time PASL MVP needs two goals to reach the 250-goal plateau and needs six goals to tie the all-time Sockers record set by the legendary Juli Veee (254 goals from 1980 to 1988).

Veee was in attendance at the Sockers home opener.

Chiles scored 45 goals and 62 points last season.

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