KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In times like these, sometimes it's best to say nothing. So Blast coach Kenny Cooper didn't speak, preferring instead to look at their faces, trying to see if this loss hurt them as much as it did him.
The Blast was defeated 10-4 by the Kansas City Comets last night at Kemper Arena in a game Cooper tried to downplay because the two teams play again tonight at the Baltimore Arena (7:35, WCAO-AM 600).
"They know my feelings," Cooper said. "I had eye contact with each individual. Some players stared back, others turned away."
The players knew of Cooper's expectations. A victory in Kansas City would have meant a first-place tie between the teams entering tonight's game. But the Blast's second straight loss left it at 10-10, two games behind Kansas City (12-8).
What made matters worse was that the game was televised locally. The viewers who tuned in saw Kansas City storm out to a 4-1 halftime lead. Those who were still watching by the fourth period saw the Blast pull goalkeeper Scott Manning with 9:17 left in favor of Bruce Savage and then Billy Ronson as their sixth attacker.
But the game was already out of reach by then. A 7-2 Comets' lead became 8-2 when midfielder Kevin Hundelt became the first player to score against the Blast's sixth-attacker unit this season with 6:27 to play. Goals by Rusty Troy and Domenic Mobilio were offset as Ted Eck and rookie Chad Ashton scored for Kansas City, the latter with six seconds remaining.
"No matter what we tried," said Cooper, "nothing worked."
On a brighter note for the Blast, forward Chris Simon scored his second goal of the season and did a little jig in front of the bench that even brought a smile to Cooper's face. The goal pulled the Blast to within 4-1, and the game wasn't out of reach-then.
In fact, midfielder David Vaudreuil scored at 1:50 of the third period to bring the Blast to within 4-2, but the team peaked there.
"We have to learn to just put this one away -- just get rid of it from an emotional standpoint," said Manning, whose record fell to 5-6. "This game wasn't atypical. They [the Comets] played aggressively; they played hard."
The Blast was without forward Tim Wittman (back bruise), and his status for tonight won't be known until game time.
The Comets got a head start on the Blast in another department: travel. They were to have arrived in Baltimore on a non-stop flight at 9:18 this morning. Baltimore, meanwhile, took the opposite route. The team slept in and was scheduled to take a 9:40 a.m. (central time) flight through Pittsburgh. The Blast was scheduled to arrive in Baltimore at 2:30 p.m.
"The nice thing about the schedule is that we have a chance to go out and win right away," Manning said. "And that's what we have to do."