The 2014 season is underway for Turlock's professional indoor soccer team and along with a new year, the Major Arena Soccer League has been implemented.
One of the big differences in this year’s team, besides the new league, is the addition of some new and experienced players.
Enrique Tovar, who was added in the offseason, was also brought on to be an assistant head coach behind Art Pulido.
Tovar, who has competed at the professional level with teams such as the San Jose Earthquakes amongst other squads, has already been a huge difference maker in the opening games.
In the first three contests, Tovar has 10 points, with three goals and a team-high seven assists.
“We hired Enrique as a player and coach and his experience and knowledge of the game has the team playing very different,” head coach Art Pulido said. “The biggest thing that is making a difference so far is Enrique because it’s a different voice and he has played professionally indoor and outdoor,” Pulido said. “The guys understand what he is saying and has them playing with more confidence and a different mentality and when we get done the confidence is there that we can win a game and that is the biggest factor right now.”
After starting 3-0 last year, the Express are 2-1 to start this season and currently stand in second place in the Pacific Division.
In addition with being plagued by injuries and losing players to free agency, the Express also struggled on the road as they were 1-7 in contests away from home during the 2013-2014 season.
To make matters worse they finished in the bottom of their division with a 5-11 overall record and were outscored 151-116 for the year.
“Last year we just had way too many things that didn't go our way and that’s why we didn’t do as well,” Pulido said about last season. “Last year was just too many injuries and losing some main players in free agency and starters are hard to replace in that matter.”
With some players already gone, there have been sparks from some newcomers.
At the age of only 19, Adrian Pulido has already proved himself as a difference maker in the first three games, consistently playing like a veteran from the backline in the early stages of the year.
Adrian Pulido has scored at least a goal in all three games and has taken only five shots.
“Adrian is on defense, but to score as much as he has early on it’s very good for us that he is also scoring like that,” said Pulido.
Also Jose Aguilera is someone to look out for as far as the young newcomers go Pulido added.
Arturo Pulido is tied for second on the team in points (6) with Adrian Gutierrez and is second on the team in goals scored (4). Uriel Robledo currently leads all scorers with six goals.
As a team, the Express have already played a much more structured game, having scored at least 11 goals in back-to-back contests while they are outscoring their opponents 28 to 20.
Behind an improved defense, goalkeeper Edgar Martinez has been a brick wall so far, with 63 saves in three bouts.
The Express’ next contest will be against Sacramento at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at McClellan Park.