Disappointment was on every face in the Blast locker room Saturday after its season-opening, 7-3 loss to Dallas at the Arena.
"The whole thing was embarrassing," said midfielder Billy Ronson. "No good lying about it. Losing 7-3 at home on opening night, well, in Baltimore, it just doesn't work that way."
Blast coach Kenny Cooper told his team to relax yesterday, "and we'll have the inquest Monday [today]."
Perhaps, the first subject of discussion will be the 10 minutes worth of penalties.
It was a situation that prevented the Blast from showing its new defensive alignment.
"We're going to be great on the sixth attacker and, eventually, we'll come together on the penalty-killing team," said Cooper. "But we didn't have a chance to see what we could do with a full team. The penalties got us unbalanced and out of our rhythm."
Dallas showed that by scoring on three of the five power-play opportunities.
"The power-play goals hurt," said midfielder Waad Hirmez. "We said we'd be physical, but we have to be physical with brains."
A thought echoed by Cooper, who pointed out there is a fine line "between great intensity and controlled intensity."
Cooper called it a team loss, pointed out it was only the first game of the season and said, again, it will take a while to get this new team in sync.
"I understand how it happened," he said. "Had it been later in the season, I'd probably torn the locker room apart. As it is, it was opening night, everyone was pressing to do well. And, I think, if we play well, we'll get a result in Wichita and come back here Sunday and redeem ourselves."
The Blast visits Wichita for the Wings' season opener Friday and plays Tacoma here at 6 p.m. Sunday.
* WHAT A KICK: Major Soccer League fans should get a lot of pleasure out of watching the U.S. National team. When the U.S. took on North Korea in Washington Saturday, there were seven current or former MSL players on the field: Fernando Clavijo, Hugo Perez, Desmond Armstrong, Bruce Savage, Steve Trittschuh, Ted Eck and Brian Quinn.
The only down note was that the U.S. lost the game, 2-1, before 16,351 in RFK Stadium.
Bruce Murray, who also plays for the Maryland Bays in the American Professional Soccer League, scored the U.S. goal. And Savage had a chance to tie the game with less than two minutes to play. But his open shot in front of the net went high.
"That was terrible," said the former Blast all-star. "Do you know how often I get an opportunity like that? Almost never. And I kicked it sky high."
The U.S. allowed North Korea to use the wings to move the ball down the field for good shots on which Chong Su Eun and Yong Son Choi scored.
"We will learn from this," said U.S. coach Bora Milutinovic. "We knew we had to be very concentrated, and sometimes we were not concentrated at all."
* COACHES' PICKS: An MSL poll of the league's seven head coaches picks the Cleveland Crunch to finish on top of the MSL regular-season standings.
The vote went like this: Cleveland (45 points, three first-place votes); St. Louis (36, one first-place vote); San Diego (31 points); Tacoma (26 points, one first-place vote); Baltimore (25 points, one first-place vote); Dallas (18 points); and Wichita (15 points, one first-place vote).
Each team received seven points for a first-place vote, six for second, and so on.
* SOCKERS SHAPING UP: San Diego signed Jacques Ladouceur bringing its roster to 12, which means three openings remain to be filled before it kicks off the season Thursday night.
In Washington, after the U.S. National game against North Korea, midfielder Quinn said he would like to sign with the Sockers, if the scheduling can be worked out.
"Right now, it looks like I could play in 75 percent of the games," said Quinn. "We've had some talks, but I don't know how serious they are. Their season opens Thursday night in Dallas, so I guess I'll know by noon Wednesday."
Sockers coach Ron Newman has also approached U.S. National team member, and former Socker, Hugo Perez about his availability.
"I think Ron is taking his time because he wants a little flexibility," said Quinn. "He's talking to me, to Hugo, to Godfrey Ingram and then, he wants to keep his options open in the case of Paul Wright, too."
* MORE HEARINGS: Arbitrator George Nicolau heard Paul Wright's side of the grievance he has filed against the Blast Friday. This week, in another conference call arrangement, Nicolau will hear from the Blast.
Wright, the former San Diego Socker who is the property of the Blast, claims the Blast did not uphold his contract when it placed him on the suspended without pay list. He is asking to be paid his full contract value of $60,000.
The Blast suspended Wright when he did not report here in the required four days after being claimed off the waiver list. He did not take the team physical or make team appearances.
* TELEVISION LIGHTS: MSL Commissioner Earl Foreman, who attended Saturday's Blast game, was impressed by the new lighting system.
"Those lights and the new carpet they're getting will make that building a show place for television," Foreman said. "I suspect the number of games we televise from there will improve."
Foreman said he hoped to have the league's TV agreement with Sports Channel [picked up locally by Home Team Sports] completed within the next week.