DALLAS -- Baltimore Blast coach Kenny Cooper felt like yelling. Knocking over water coolers. Tossing chairs against the dressing room wall. Kicking the air out of the nearest soccer ball.
But despite one of the most humiliating performances in Blast history -- a 10-2 loss to the Dallas Sidekicks at Reunion Arena last night -- Cooper decided to keep his composure in check.
With less than two days to prepare for a Sunday night encounter at MSL leader San Diego, Cooper figured the last thing he should do is jump down his players' throats, pointing fingers at those he felt most responsible for the Blast's worst loss of the season.
"Obviously, this is a humbling experience for everybody," Cooper said. "Tonight we played like it was the first time we had ever played together. Some of our people had better look in the mirror.
"As upset as I am and as disappointed as I am, if we were not playing Sunday, I'd be furious. But you have to be very careful how you react after games like this. We have 48 hours to put this behind us."
First, they'll have to get over their shellshock. The Blast, playing its first road game since Dec. 27, usually is treated kindly at Reunion, having won 17 of its previous 24 games here, including a 6-2 victory Dec. 7. And just a week ago, the Blast had beaten the Sidekicks, 9-4, in Baltimore.
But the Blast players would have rather been anywhere than in Dallas on this night. They were outplayed from start to finish, always a step slow to the ball. Their defense was horrible, leaving goaltender Cris Vaccaro alone on point-blank shots by the Sidekicks, who rolled to a 6-0 halftime lead and never looked back.
"Give Dallas credit," Cooper said. "They played like it was the seventh game of the MSL finals. It's the best I've ever seen them play, and I've seen them play a lot."
Cooper had warned his team before the game that the Sidekicks would be determined to break their four-game losing streak.
But Dallas coach Gordon Jago said the losing streak was not a big concern. His club was much more motivated by simply putting a good game together against a usually tough foe.
How good was it? The eight-goal margin of victory tied a Sidekicks record.
"In the last week, it was almost like a mini-camp," Jago said. "We went over everything, and I think that's why we were mentally sharp.
"I thought our first-half performance was the best we've given all season. It was a perfect team performance."
Dallas was led by defender Richard Chinapoo, who came up with a hat trick after missing the previous two games with a pulled right hamstring. And despite some two-man marking by the Blast on Tatu, the MSL's leading scorer still had two goals and four assists. In fact, he assisted on all three of Chinapoo's goals.
That wasn't all. The Sidekicks scored on three power plays and received six goals from defenders.
"This is one game I would hate to have been a keeper," Tatu said. "Every time they double-teamed, we found the open man. And our shooting was fantastic. What are you going to do?"
The Blast got goals from Mark Mettrick in the third period and Domenic Mobilio in the fourth, but it mattered little. Baltimore's offense rarely tested Dallas goaltender Joe Papaleo, especially in the first half; he faced six shots in the first quarter and two in the second period.
Baltimore 0 0 1 1 -- 2
Dallas .. 3 3 1 3 -- 10
First period--Dallas, power play, Tatu 28 (Doyle), 8:30; Dallas, Goossens 6 (Chinapoo), 9:30; Dallas, Chinapoo 15 (Tatu), 13:17. Penalties--Baltimore, Dragicevic, tripping, 7:22.
Second period--Dallas, Snyder 5 (Doyle), 4:48; Dallas, Chinapo16 (Tatu) 10:02; Dallas, Smith 17 (Stavrou) 13:38. Penalties--Baltimore, Mettrick, unsportsmanlike conduct, 14:40; Baltimore, Neely, unsportsmanlike conduct, 14:40.
Third period--Dallas, power play, Chinapoo 17 (Tatu) :33Baltimore, Mettrick 11 (Castro) 5:39. Penalties--none.
Fourth period--Dallas, Uremovich 3 (Tatu) 3:09; Dallas, Agoos (Goossens) 4:12; Dallas, power play, Tatu 29 (Doyle), 7:17; Baltimore, Mobilio 24 (Fraser), 9:00. Penalties--Baltimore, Castro, tripping, 6:15; Dallas, Pfeil, unsportsmanlike conduct, 13:13; Baltimore, Fraser, unsportsmanlike conduct, 13:13.
Shots on goal--Baltimore 6-2-13-10--31; Dallas 9-9-5-10--33Saves--Baltimore, Vaccaro 14; Dallas, Papaleo 8. Referees--Kelly Mock, Casey Frankewicz, Manuel Ortiz Sr. A--7,062.