Football returned to Baltimore last night in the form of a wild Major Soccer League shootout at the Baltimore Arena.
The Baltimore Blast won the free-for-all, 13-9, over the St. LouiStorm in the home opener before a festive crowd of 8,753.
"I felt like I was coaching the Baltimore Colts," said Blast coacKenny Cooper. "It seemed like football had come back to Baltimore."
Blast owner Ed Hale, who is seeking a National Football Leagufranchise for the city, said, "All we did was miss the extra point."
Domenic Mobilio (four goals), Billy Ronson (one goal, six assistsand Tim Wittman (three goals) led the Blast scoring assault that came after St. Louis had taken a 5-2 lead at halftime.
Baltimore outscored the Storm, 11-4, in the second half to set team record for the most goals in a half. Ronson's six assists -- five in the second half and four in a row -- established a club record for one game, surpassing the five handed out by former Blast star David Byrne.
The 22 goals for both teams were the most scored in a gaminvolving the Blast.
It all came after a noisy new Blast introduction that not onlassaulted the eardrums of the fans but also resulted in Baltimore midfielder Joey Barger getting a piece of glass in his eye when he came through the large exploding sticks of dynamite.
Barger tried to play a couple of shifts and had to leave the floor.
He said: "I had my eye washed out but it still hurts. I guess I mushave scratched my cornea. I'll have to wear a patch over my eye for 24 hours."
It was all the beginning of a new era for the Blast, featuring new opening ceremony, a team mascot dressed up as a construction worker carrying dynamite, new professional cheerleaders and new blue and white uniforms.
zTC But when St. Louis scored the first four goals of the game for 4-0 lead in just the first eight minutes, it looked as if disaster had struck the Blast.
Baltimore (1-2) was coming off a 7-6, overtime loss to the KansaCity Comets Friday night (blowing a 4-0 third-quarter lead) and was seeking its first win of the season, having lost all four of its preseason games, also.
"We didn't care who scored the goals, we just wanted to win a game," said Ronson.
It seemed as if the Blast was replaying Friday night's loss in the first half when the Storm burned the defense for several easy goals.
Goalkeeper Scoop Stanisic, who is 8-0 in his career against thStorm, was under siege in the opening minutes of the game. He was unable to stop the point-blank St. Louis shots and it seemed as if some in the crowd were becoming disgruntled.
But Cooper tried at halftime to shake the team out of its slumber.
"I told the team that no lead is safe anymore in this league witthe bigger goals [14 feet wide instead of 12 feet and 7 1/2 feet high instead of 6 1/2 ]," he said. "I wasn't mad at Scoop or anybody else. I just knew this is the way things are going to go."
The Blast responded to the surprisingly calm Cooper halftimspeech.
Wittman started the second half with an unassisted goal minutes, 5 seconds into the third quarter and the show was on.
Baltimore scored six of the first seven goals after halftime tsurge ahead, 8-6, at 3:15 of the fourth quarter.
Rusty Troy scored two of the goals in the second-half surge thaleft the Storm wondering what was happening.
"You have to expect games like this," said St. Louis coach DoPopovic, trying to remain calm. "I don't think it was as much a matter of our defense playing poorly as it was the larger goals."
With those larger goals in place, the average number of goalper game is 11.2 for both teams compared with 8.3 last season.
"It's a forward's dream and a defender's nightmare," saiMobilio. "I love it. I got a little tired out there [Mobilio missed Friday night's game with strep throat] but was able to keep on going."
The Blast missed connections with new striker Dale Mitchell atimes last night but he did manage to score a goal in the fourth quarter.
"I was pumped up for this one," said Mitchell.