The latest humiliation of the season hit the skidding Baltimore Blast last night.
The Blast was booed at home for the first time in three years, and some fans actually cheered when the announcement was made there was one minute left in the game.
The Blast was blown away by the last-place Wichita Wings, 9-2, before 9,080 at the Baltimore Arena.
Suddenly even the Wings (18-27) are closing in on the third-place Blast (20-24) in the Major Soccer League Eastern Division standings. The two teams are fighting for the final playoff spot in the East.
Wichita coach Roy Turner said: "This is the one of the finest performances in my seven years of coaching in the league. We maintained our discipline and were very honest. I told the players if we controlled our emotions and play honest, the score will take care of itself."
The Wings were led by Dale Ervine (two goals, two assists), rookie Steve Pittman (two goals, one assist) and Chico Borja (one goal, three assists).
Ervine said: "Coach Turner gave us a game plan that is different than we've used in the past here. We usually try to be cute in the back with the ball, but tonight we went forward most of the time."
But as bad as it sounds, the Blast is only one game behind the second-place Kansas City Comets (21-23) in the East.
Wichita had lost nine straight at the Arena and had not won in Baltimore since Jan. 26, 1989. Overall the Wings were 2-21 in the history of the franchise at the Baltimore Arena before last night.
But they rose up and smothered the Blast with an all-around outstanding effort that left Baltimore looking tired, disorganized and embarrassed.
Not even the enthusiasm of new defender Chris Reif could help the Blast last night.
Blast forward Rusty Troy, usually quick to come to the defense of his team, said he couldn't blame the fans for their anger last night.
"I felt the same way they did," said Troy. "They paid their money and had a right to express their thoughts. Time after time we've had a chance to move up on teams [second-place Kansas City last night] and we haven't done it."
It was the sixth loss in the last seven games for Baltimore and the second straight at home to a last-place team.
The Dallas Sidekicks, last in the Western Division, defeated the Blast, 6-5, Feb. 28 at the Baltimore Arena.
Domenic Mobilio (one goal, one assist) led the Blast but had an empty feeling in the silent locker room.
"I'm disappointed," said Mobilio. "This is something that should never happen at home."
Blast coach Kenny Cooper kept the locker room closed for 20 minutes after the game but said he didn't spend the time yelling at his players.
"I'm not going to kick somebody when they're down and we're down now," said Cooper. "I know the players would like to come out right now and play again if they could. The good thing is we only have to wait 16 hours before out next game [today's 2:35 game against San Diego Sockers at Arena]."
When the Blast fell behind, 6-0, at the end of the third quarter, Cooper went to a sixth attacker offense but that backfired like almost everything else last night.
Cooper rotated Billy Ronson and Bruce Savage in and out as sixth attackers before going back to goalkeeper Scott Manning to keep Wichita from reaching double figures.
&Opponent: San Diego Sockers
Site: Baltimore Arena, 2:35 p.m.
TV: Channel 45
Radio: WCAO (600 AM)
Outlook: The Blast has lost 4 straight home games to the Sockers, who make their final regular-season appearance at the Baltimore Arena this season. Three of those losses have come this season, in which San Diego owns a 5-1 overall advantage over Baltimore. The Blast's lone win over the Sockers this season came on Nov. 15 in San Diego. San Diego has already clinched a playoff berth and leads the Western Division by 2 1/2 games over the St. Louis Storm. Dale Mitchell (35 goals, 33 assists) leads the Blast, and Brian Quinn (18 goals, 42 assists) leads the Sockers.