It hasn't been by any standards an even decent start for the Turlock Express, or not one that head coach Art Pulido expected, but with nine games left in the season and the Express just two games from third place in their division, there is no question they are still in the hunt for the playoffs—meaning their year is far from over.
“Our guys know that we're still alive in the playoffs... they know and that is what we are trying to do, transition as a team in this second half of the season,” said Pulido. “We saw many close games but couldn't come away with the wins.”
It’s a tall task but a manageable one for the fifth place Express in the Southwest Division in the Major Arena Soccer League, which won their opener but then went on to lose eight straight before picking up a victory.
Goalkeeper Edgar Martinez ended the game with 38 saves and Adrian Pulido, Jorge Carmona and Arturo Pulido each notched a pair of goals to help secure the team’s second win in 11 contests.
Six of the Express' nine losses were by three goals or less.
Las Vegas currently holds an 11-3 record in first place and second is Baja at 7-7. Brownsville and Saltillo are just one and two games away from the Express, respectively.
“Those early losses cost us because they were so close and we started to lose and it snowballed a little. If we'd won those close games we would be in great position for playoffs,” said Pulido.
The Express are currently 2-9 and are 1-1 over their last two games with the team's most recent contest coming this past Friday — an 8-4 loss to Ontario.
With such a young team, scoring has been limited with only four players amassing 10 points or more. Arturo Pulido is first with 20 and Adrian Gutierrez (14), Martyn Arista (11) and Jose Barajas (10) follow.
"We just need to stay focused and we still have a chance to make playoffs. Limit the mistakes we've been making and (we) should be in a battle and hopefully get in that run,” said Pulido.
The next game for the Express will be against the second place Tacoma Stars, who are 9-5 in the Pacific Division, at home at 7:35 p.m. Friday.