The Baltimore love affair with Domenic Mobilio continued last night.
Mobilio was showered with cards, cookies and a large birthday cake by Baltimore Blast fans before the game. Then, he scored three goals to lead Baltimore to a 9-6 victory over the Kansas City Comets at the Baltimore Arena.
Mobilio turned 22 yesterday.
"The fans in Baltimore have been great to me all along," said Mobilio, who has scored 105 goals and has 51 assists in less than three seasons. "They really show their appreciation for me, and it makes me want to play even harder. I couldn't even sleep all day, even though we had to get up at 6 a.m. in Dallas."
Mobilio showed a little of everything last night against the Comets, scoring from short, medium and long range.
Baltimore (14-13) moved within two games of first-place Kansas City (16-11) in the Major Soccer League Eastern Division.
It was an especially satisfying hat trick for Mobilio, who had been pushed around by the Comets in previous meetings.
"They've beaten up on me pretty good, and I haven't played well against them at times," said Mobilio. "But tonight it was my turn to do something. And to do it against Kansas City makes me very happy."
The Comets, playing without leading scorer Jan Goossens, who was out with a swollen right knee, tried again to intimidate Mobilio last night, but it didn't work.
Mobilio is learning a little more each game as he plays the striker position.
When he first came to town as a 19-year-old from Vancouver, British Columbia, Mobilio sometimes allowed himself to get caught up in mental games with opponents.
But now he is reacting, instead of thinking too much, and it's paying dividends.
"Domenic can be a folk hero in Baltimore before he's through," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper. "He showed again tonight he can score goals almost every way imaginable."
Mobilio received a lot of help from Rusty Troy (two goals), Mark Mettrick (one goal, one assist), Tim Wittman (one goal, one assist), Mike Stankovic (three assists) and Dale Mitchell (two assists).
The game probably was the top team effort of the season for a Blast team that still is trying to find itself as the second half of the season begins.
"Tonight, we played like a first-place team," said Cooper. "We've had a lot of road games, but now we have the schedule turning a little in our favor. It's time for us to make a run if we're going to do it."
"We've been saying all along that we're going to go on a run when we have a good game, but it hasn't happened," said Wittman. "We keep on winning one, losing two, winning two and so on.
Hank Henry, playing his second game in place of the injured Scott Manning (sprained ligament in right knee), made 13 saves.
"I just have to stop making a few little mistakes that hurt us," said Henry.
Meanwhile, Manning said he might be out for only a week instead of three to four.
"I'm responding to treatment real well and feeling pretty good," he said.