Sidekicks stumble through opening weekend

The Dallas Sidekicks’ 2019-2020 campaign is officially underway, though not how the team would have liked.

To begin with, a packed December calendar for the Allen Event Center has forced the team on a 3-game road trip to begin the season, delaying their home opener until December 14. Compounding their travel woes, the Sidekicks had their first three games scheduled with just one day off in between. And that’s just the story off the floor.

RJ Luevano prepares a pass against the Monterrey Flash. (Dallas Sidekicks)

The Sidekicks kicked off their season on the road at the brand-new Mesquite Outlaws, less than 30 miles south of their home arena. More than just geographic rivals, the Outlaws look and play much like the Sidekicks of yore, with Tatu, Sagu, and Nick Stavrou coaching, and a roster filled with familiar faces and former teammates.

The Sidekicks, meanwhile, look radically different, thanks to nearly half the team moving to Mesquite.

In the first quarter, the Sidekicks held their own, scoring less than 90 seconds into the game to take an early lead. Mesquite rallied with 2 goals from former SMU Mustang Jorge Deleon, carrying their 2-1 lead into the second quarter. Unfortunately, that would be the only time the Sidekicks led on Saturday.

Mesquite outscored the Sidekicks 2-1 again in both the 2nd and 3rd quarters, entering the final fifteen minutes with a 6-4 lead. The Sidekicks mounted a charge in the final frame, out-shooting Mesquite 8 to 3, but struggling with accuracy, sending several shots off the posts. Even with a power-play opportunity, several free kicks, and a penalty shot, the Sidekicks could only manage 2 goals in the 4th Quarter, conceding a 7th with an empty net.

Still, though the Sidekicks held their own against a well-coached new rival, and things were looking up. That is, until Monday.

The Sidekicks then traveled down to Monterrey short-handed and on short rest. Arthur Ivo, Josh Hernandez, Kristian Quintana, and most notably Juan Gamboa, all did not travel for Monday night’s game. Monterrey, meanwhile, re-signed the majority of their runner-up team from last season, leaving them among the best in the conference.

Monterrey wasted no time in getting on the board, with Miguel Vaca scoring just 34 seconds into the game. The Flash continued to pound the Kicks’ defenders who held strong for nine more minutes before Vaca got his second, managing to hold Monterrey to just six shots through the first.

The floodgates opened in the second, with Monterrey scoring twice in 30 seconds and extending their lead to 5-0 by the 2-minute mark. The Sidekicks managed just 4 shots to Monterrey’s 13 and found themselves in a 7-0 hole at halftime.

Things continued to get worse in the 3rd, with Monterrey adding another 4 unanswered goals and the Sidekicks managing just a single blocked shot. Somehow, Dallas managed to wake up in the final quarter, out-shooting the Flash 12 to 8, but once again, a porous defense and inaccurate offense doomed them to just a single goal and another 3 conceded.

Just two games into the season and the Sidekicks are in trouble. They lost both their offensive and defensive core, primarily to Mesquite, and the players brought in to replace them are not yet performing at a high enough level.

The Sidekicks sit dead last in the Western Conference on a -15 goal differential, second-worst in the league, and have 11 days before their first home game. At this point, all they can really hope for is damage control in Sonora on Wednesday and, at best, a 1-2 record before their upcoming bye week.

The 14-1 loss stands as the worst loss for the Sidekicks since the 21-2 massacre in Sonora in February 2017, and among the biggest blowouts the team has suffered since its revival in the summer of 2012. This should serve as a wake-up call for Simon Bozas to try something different, as the league is even more competitive this season, and he’s still looking for his first winning record.

The Sidekicks return to action on Wednesday, December 4, for the final game in their 3-game season-opening road trip. They’ll be in Sonora, Mexico, taking on the revived Soles De Sonora, with kickoff scheduled for 9pm Central. The game will be streamed free via MASL.TV and YouTube.

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