A great weekend of soccer took place last week, with several key match-ups going into extra time and, in the case of Utica City and Baltimore, the rarely seen shootout. Honestly, I love the concept of a shootout, but as a deciding factor in a game, I don’t. With 10 seconds left in overtime, William Vanzela tripped a streaking Bo Jelovac. If that didn’t happen, Jelovac had a clear shot at goal, possibly giving the victory to Utica. Instead, a blue card was given after deliberation, and reversal of the original call, which was a shootout. For the final ten seconds of overtime, Utica was on a power play. Ten. Seconds. In Vanzela’s defense, it was the right thing to do. But, it left the end of the game with a sour taste in the mouths of the fans in attendance. So, what should be done about this? Do we change the overtime format in the league? Do we have goalkeepers serve their penalties? What say you MASL Nation? As for last week, I didn’t do so hot, going 8-5. Hannah once again beat her dad going 9-4. A tip of the cap goes to Alec Marschke, as I’m sure he beat both of us. I need to seek revenge, so I’ve sent out a message to him, asking for another match-up. Week 19 is pretty light, with only seven games on tap, so let’s get picking!

THURSDAY 4/4:

SAN DIEGO over Ontario: In the battle of former USMNT players, Jermaine Jones and his Fury will host Landon Donovan and the Sockers. Ontario had an easy go of it on Saturday, beating Turlock 12-2. Meanwhile, San Diego, had to comeback against Tacoma on the road. The Sockers are still rolling along, winning their last 18 games. The schedule does start getting a little more challenging down the stretch for San Diego, with home games against Southwest Division playoff teams Rio Grande Valley and Monterrey. I could see this being a trap game for the Sockers, but I’m still picking San Diego in a close one 7-5. HANNAH’S PICK: She’s going against her dad on this one and taking the Fury in an upset.

FRIDAY 4/5:

RIO GRANDE VALLEY over Turlock: With their loss on Sunday, RGV has clinched the second spot in the Southwest Division. With their playoff match-up with Monterrey about three weeks away, rest won’t be on the minds of the Barracuda players just yet. I see most, if not all, of their key players, playing in this match-up against Turlock on the road. As previously mentioned, Turlock lost 12-2 to the Fury on Saturday. The Express play close at home for the most part, so I’ll give the Barracudas a 9-6 victory. HANNAH’S PICK: Hannah likes the Barracudas.

SATURDAY 4/6:

BALTIMORE over Florida: On Saturday, I will be watching this game very carefully as Baltimore will need to win this game to have a chance of taking the Eastern Division from Utica City. The Blast are coming off of one of the best games of the season, winning 5-4 in a shootout over that same Utica team. Meanwhile, Florida couldn’t handle a tired Kansas City team, losing 6-2. For my Utica City fans that read this, we will have to wait another week for our game before a winner in the Eastern Division is decided. I see Baltimore taking this one, 7-3. HANNAH’S PICK: Even though they just beat Utica, she’s still picking the Blast.

HARRISBURG over Mississauga: The Heat did Utica City a HUGE favor last weekend beating Baltimore, 4-3, on a Tavoy Morgan rocket in overtime. If it wasn’t for that upset, Baltimore would control their own destiny in the Eastern Division. Harrisburg also faced Mississauga last weekend, beating the MetroStars 6-3. This will be the last game for both teams, and the only thing at stake is bragging rights. Next year, I see both of these teams being more of a threat in the MASL, but as for this year, and this game, I’m taking the Heat 8-4. HANNAH’S PICK: For those of you that read our article, you’ve been following the tale of Hannah’s new best friend, Ricardo Carvalho of the Heat. On Sunday, she got her jersey, and she was over the moon! She’s already told me she wants to watch the game and root for the Heat. So, without asking her, I know she’ll be going with Harrisburg as well.

DALLAS over Tacoma: The Stars had the makings of an upset over San Diego on Sunday. After going up 4-0 on the Sockers, they proceeded to give up six unanswered goals. In a back and forth 4th quarter, Tacoma didn’t have enough left in the tank, losing 8-7. Meanwhile, the Sidekicks took care of the Coyotes in another Sunday game, 8-4. Dallas has shown that they can beat big teams at home, with victories against Monterrey and Rio Grande Valley. Add a victory against Tacoma in Tacoma back on February 24th, and this is a recipe for a slight upset. Give me Dallas, 7-5. HANNAH’S PICK: Hannah isn’t giving up on the Stars, so she likes Tacoma to win.

SUNDAY 4/7:

MONTERREY over Tacoma: Another day, and another road game for the Stars, as they travel across the border to face the Southwest Division champions, the Monterrey Flash. The Flash won in dramatic fashion against Rio Grande Valley, 8-7 in overtime. I could see Monterrey starting to rest players for their playoff push, but who really knows what will happen? Either way, Tacoma will be on the 2nd leg of a back to back, and after traveling, tired legs will be a big factor in this one. I like the Flash to further decrease the playoff hopes for Tacoma, so put me down for a 7-3 score. HANNAH’S PICK: A clean sweep for the Stars this weekend, which would make Coach Nick Perera very excited!

SAN DIEGO over Rio Grande Valley: Both of these teams will be coming off of road games, but San Diego still is playing for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. That means you’ll probably see most of the starters for the Sockers, while the Barracudas will be, or should be, resting their key guys. I’ll make this one short and sweet. San Diego 10, RGV 5. HANNAH’S PICK: Hannah ALMOST picked the Barracudas, but after a couple of seconds, she picked the Sockers instead.

There it is; Week 19’s picks are in the books. The season may be winding down, but there are still key games left, especially in the Pacific Division. Once that division is set, I will be releasing my playoff predictions. Stay tuned for that! Let’s do this again next week MASL Nation!

Merlin –
Last week: 8-5, Season: 141-49

Hannah –
Last week: 9-4, Season: 94-67