SAN DIEGO -- The fiasco that let Paul Wright go back to the San Diego Sockers is not as frustrating to Baltimore Blast coach Kenny Cooper as his team's under-achievement.
Cooper closed the Blast dressing room for 20 minutes last night after Baltimore lost to San Diego, 7-2, to remind the players that early-season games have taken on added importance now that the Major Soccer League season has been trimmed from 52 games to 40.
The Blast never was in the game, as Wright scored two goals and an assist for the Sockers.
"We didn't play as well as we could have," said Cooper. "Both teams have kind of restructured, and it all came together for them tonight and not us."
After watching the Sockers run the Blast ragged, it appeared that the defending MSL champions were a step ahead all night.
Wright, who was claimed by the Blast on waivers last summer but refused to play in Baltimore, is the kind of player who could have become a leader on Cooper's offense.
"He would be useful to any team," said Sockers coach Ron Newman. "He can shoot, he can pass and he is difficult to control."
Cooper agreed and is still angry that Wright slipped back to San Diego for a third-round draft choice and cash, but said his team suffers more from being out of sync than being slow.
"Actually, we do have some speed and some quick players, but we didn't use it tonight at the right times," Cooper said.
Wright scored eight goals against the Blast last season and leads the Sockers in scoring this season.
He scored a goal and an assist in the first half and added his fourth goal of the season in the second half.
The Blast (1-4), which was outshot by San Diego, 29-17, is off until Saturday when it plays host to the Sockers (2-2).
Mike Stankovic had a goal and an assist for Baltimore. Domenic Mobilio scored a goal and has scored a point in 10 straight games.
After trailing, 3-0, at the half, the Blast allowed an easy goal to Paul Dougherty at 4:49 of the third quarter. Dougherty got a toe on Brian Quinn's shot from the red line and redirected the ball past the diving Cris Vaccaro.
The Blast got on the board at 5:20 when Mobilio scored his seventh goal of the season on a rebound of a shot by Stankovic.
Stankovic stole the ball near the Sockers' red line from Tim Wittman, a Baltimore native who spent 10 years with the Blast before joining the Sockers as a free agent in the off-season.
Stankovic ripped a shot at goalie Victor Nogueira. Nogueira blocked the ball, but couldn't hang on, and Mobilio was there.
The Sockers took a 5-1 lead on Wright's second goal of the night on an assist from Quinn at 10:43 of the third period.
Stankovic made it 5-2 with his fifth goal of the season at 4:12 of the final quarter.
Stankovic took a crossing pass at the red line fom Waad Hirmez and whistled his shot between Nogueira and defender Kevin Crow.
The Sockers closed out the scoring in the closing minutes on goals by Ben Collins and John Kerr after Baltimore pulled Vaccaro.
Baltimore... 0... 0... 1... 1... --... 2
San Diego... 1... 2... 2... 2... --... 7
First quarter--1, San Diego, Quinn 3 (Dougherty), 14.59. Penalties--Quinn, San Diego (dangerous play), 4:34.
Second quarter--2, San Diego, Ladouceur 2 (Wright), :10. 3, San Diego, Wright 3 (Ladouceur), 7:25. Penalties--Dougherty, San Diego (tripping), :37.
Third quarter--4, San Diego, Dougherty 1 (Quinn), 4:49 (pp). 5, Baltimore, Mobilio 7 (Stankovic), 5:28. 6, San Diego, Wright 4 (Quinn), 10:43. Penalties--Hirmez, Baltimore (tripping), 3:23.
Fourth quarter--7, Baltimore, Stankovic 1 (Hirmez), 4:12. 8, San Diego, Collins 3 (Wade), 13:06. 9, San Diego, Kerr 1 (Wade), 13:45. Penalties--None.
Shots on Goal--Baltimore 6-3-5-317. San Diego 6-5-11-729. Goalies--Vaccaro, Baltimore, 29 shots, 15 saves; Ronson, Baltimore, 1 shot, 0 saves; Nogueira, San Diego, 17 shots, 9 saves. A--10,293.