ST. LOUIS -- The Baltimore Blast has never failed to qualify for the Major Soccer League playoffs, but the Blast has the look of a team seeking an early vacation.
The Blast, which had lost five in a row and nine of 10 heading into last night's game with St. Louis, played better against the Storm but not well enough to win. Thompson Usiyan's 60th goal of the season and second of the game 5 minutes, 10 seconds into overtime gave St. Louis (29-19) an 8-7 win.
"It's incredible," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper. "Every game has been like a carbon copy this season. We play our hearts out, and then again at the end we've got nothing to show for it.
"When the game's on the line sometimes you have to reach out and grab it," Cooper said. "We didn't do that tonight. We let them back in the game when we had a chance to put it away."
"It's hard to explain, even though it keeps happening all the time," Mike Stankovic said. "But we have been playing much stronger lately. We've played some tough teams on the road and we've been playing a lot better."
Baltimore fell to 20-29, but the Blast still might have accomplished some good, since Wichita, battling the Blast for the final playoff spot in the MSL's Eastern Division, also lost, 9-4 to Kansas City. Baltimore leads the Wings by a game and a half for third place and the the final playoff spot.
Stankovic had two goals and an assist to pace Baltimore. Domenic Mobilio scored his 45th of the season and chipped in with two assists. David Vaudreuil, Joe Barger, Dominic Feltham and Rusty Troy also scored for the Blast.
Preki had a hat trick to lead the Storm. St. Louis also got goals from Daryl Doran, Terry Brown and Godfrey Ingram.
Although the two teams appear to be headed in different directions, last night's game was close all the way, with the lead see-sawing.
The Blast looked as if it had things in hand when Stankovic scored twice within a minute early in the fourth quarter to give Baltimore a 6-4 lead. But, like every Blast advantage in the game, this one was short-lived.
St. Louis All-Star Preki got the Storm back into it single-handedly by scoring two unassisted goals in 15 seconds, a team record.
Baltimore 1 1 2 3 0 -- 7
St. Louis 0 2 2 3 1 -- 8
First quarter--1. Baltimore, Mobilio 45 ppg (Mitchell) 14:55. Penalties--Schmetzer, SL (dangerous play), 14:12.
Second quarter--2. St. Louis, Preki 61 (Usiyan), 1:07; 3. St. Louis, Doran 15 (Muhr), 3:17; 4. Baltimore, Vaudreuil 9 (Mitchell), 5:02. Penalties--none.
Third quarter--5. Baltimore, Barger 4 (Chinapoo), 8:10; 6. St. Louis, Usiyan 59 (Dragicevic) 9:47; 7. St. Louis, Brown 18 (Doran) 10:40; 8. Baltimore, Feltham 3 (Mobilio) 12:18. Penalties--none.
Fourth quarter--9. Baltimore, Stankovic 21 (Mobilio), 3:11; 10. Baltimore, Stankovic 22 (Feltham), 3:57; 11. St. Louis, Preki 62 (UA), 7:23; 12. St. Louis, Preki 63 (UA), 7:38; 13. St. Louis, Ingram 37 (Brown), 9:11; 14. Baltimore, Troy 25 (Stankovic), 9:54. Penalties--none.
Overtime--15. St. Louis, Usiyan 60 (Preki), 5:10. Penalties--none.
Shots on goal--Baltimore 5-9-5-7-1--27. St. Louis 8-10-7-11-2--38. Goalies--Baltimore, Henry, 21 saves; St. Louis, Ilijevski, 11 saves. Officials--Esse Baharmest, Herb Silva and Phil Scaglione. A--10,221.