The top two teams from last year’s highly contested Mid-South Division race squared off for the first of four meetings on the new season Thursday night in Midland. The rivalry between the two Premier Development League heavyweights carried over into 2016 as both teams entered the young season with undefeated records. The Midland/Odessa Sockers entered the contest sitting atop the division with a 2-0 record after recording two road victories in Albuquerque last weekend. Mississippi Brilla FC was just behind with a 1-0 record after topping Peachtree City MOBA in their first contest of the new campaign. Brilla was the team to come away with an unblemished record after recording a hard fought 1-0 victory.
The teams traded blows early on, with neither really having an edge in time of possession. In fact, the teams seemed to be equal on scoring chances, fouls, and possession through most of the first half. Although the Sockers had a number of dangerous scoring opportunities, it was Brilla that struck first in the 32nd minute.
French midfielder Ianis Ghachem earned a foul just beyond midfield that started the scoring opportunity for Brilla. The short ball up the line from the free kick found the feet of Jamaican Newton Henry. He played a nice ball to overlapping Ignacio Flores. The captain from Chile delivered a perfect cross into the box that Louis Beddouri was able to bury with a diving header to give the visitors a 1-0 lead before the half.
The hosts threw everything they had at Brilla in the second half, but Mississippi was able to stand firm in the defensive third. The result was a big 3 points on the road for Brilla (2-0, 6 points) and the first loss of the season for the Sockers (2-1, 6 points).
The teams return for the second round on Saturday, May 28 in Midland, once again. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm.