RICHFIELD, Ohio -- No one could blame Baltimore Blast coach Kenny Cooper for not wanting to return to Cleveland in the near future. After all, his team has now been pounded by a combined 20-5 in two trips to the Richfield Coliseum this season.
The latest setback came last night before a crowd of 3,868, as Cleveland set a Major Soccer League record with nine different players scoring during a 9-3 triumph. The loss ended the Blast's season-high three-game winning streak and knocked them from a first-place tie in the Eastern Division with the Kansas City Comets (17-13), who beat the Dallas Sidekicks, 6-4, last night.
Just as it did during its Nov. 30 trip to Ohio, Baltimore (16-14) fell behind early and never recovered.
"The less said the better," said Cooper, whose team trailed by 7-0 during an 11-2 loss in November and by 6-0 last night. "They [the Crunch] played very well and finished their chances. We were a bit unlucky in the first half and couldn't put our chances away. On the road you have to do that.
"You can't take anything away from Cleveland, though, because they have a lot of people that can hurt you."
The people that hurt the Blast the most were Zoran Karic and Kai Haaskivi.
Each had a goal and two assists, with Karic running his totals against Baltimore this season to four goals and seven assists in four games.
"We just couldn't stop Karic," said Cooper, "and Kai is really helping them.
"We didn't have one good performance, and once they got the lead we had to push forward on that big field. The we got spread out and a little unbalanced. We made some mistakes and got punished for them."
Cleveland coach Trevor Dawkins, whose team is now 11-18 and won three of four, said, "Offensively, it was a great game and everybody got in on the act.
"Defensively, we put pressure on them and made it easy for our goalie [P.J. Johns]."
The Crunch tallied twice in the first period -- Andy Schmetzer at 8 minutes, 55 seconds and Karic with just 30 seconds left in the frame -- to gain the upper hand. Karic also assisted on Schmetzer's counter.
A power-play goal by Ali Kazemaini (Mark Mettrick was off for tripping) made it 3-0 at the half. Haaskivi assisted on the final two counters.
The second half began just as badly for Baltimore, as Marco Rizi volleyed in a wall pass from Dave Hoggan just 1:33 in.
Bernie James made it 5-0 before the end of the period and Michael King tallied just 1:04 into the final stanza.
The Blast made a small charge as Richard Chinapoo and Domenic Mobilio got power-play goals at the 4:54 and 8:20 marks. Mobilio, who also assisted on the first tally, now has at least one point in 12 of his last 13 games.
NOTES: G Scott Manning missed his fifth straight game with a sprained right knee suffered on Jan. 11.
Baltimore 0 0 0 3 -- 3
Cleveland 2 1 2 4 -- 9
First quarter--1. Cleveland, Schmetzer (Karic), 8:55; 2. Cleveland, Karic (Haaskivi), 14:30. Penalties--none.
Second quarter--3. Cleveland, Kazemaini (Haaskivi), 7:57 (pp). Penalties--Reynolds, Balt (holding), 4:30; Johns, Cleve, (handball), 4:40; Mettrick, Balt, (tripping), 6:52.
Third quarter--4. Cleveland, Rizi (Hoggan), 1:27; 5. Cleveland, James (Karic), 9:08. Penalties--none.
Fourth quarter--6. Cleveland, King (Sweeney), 1:04; 7. Baltimore, Chinapoo (Mobilio), 4:45 (pp); 8. Baltimore, Mobilio (Wittman), 8:20 (pp); 9. Cleveland, Marinaro (James), 8:36; 10. Cleveland, Haaskivi (Kulsdom), 10:46, (pp); 11. Cleveland, Sweeney (Marinaro), 12:54; 12. Baltimore, Barger (Savage), 14:42. Penalties--Hoggan, Cleve, (tripping), 3:29; Johns, Cleve, (handball), 8:11; Stankovic, Balt (tripping), 10:45.
Shots on goal--Baltimore, 6-4-4-7--21. Cleveland, 7-9-6-12--34. Fouls--Baltimore, 1-3-5-3--12; Cleveland, 2-2-5-2--11. Goalies--Baltimore, Henry (6-4) 60:00, 12 saves. Cleveland: Johns 60:00, 9 saves.