One of the last things Baltimore Blast coach Kenny Cooper said Thursday before leaving for a two-game road trip this weekend was: "We can use these games as a foundation for the second half of the season."
That foundation was crumbling yesterday after the Dallas Sidekicks blew away the Blast, 10-2, Friday night at Reunion Arena behind a three-goal, one-assist performance by former Blast midfielder Richard Chinapoo.
It was the second time this season that Chinapoo has scored a hat trick to lead Dallas over the Blast. The first Chinapoo hat trick came at the Baltimore Arena Dec. 14 when the Sidekicks stung the Blast, 7-5.
Chinapoo was not re-signed by Baltimore last summer even though he openly said he wanted to stay with the Blast because he has a home on Wilkens Avenue and was attending school at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Chinapoo insists he is not carrying out any kind of vendetta against Baltimore, but by now it probably wouldn't be hard to convince Cooper and the Blast players otherwise.
It was obvious Chinapoo was hurt when his name kept popping up in trade talks during last season and eventually the team decided not to bring him back this season. But Chinapoo never revealed his feelings.
He just shrugged his shoulders and said he didn't try to change what he had no control over.
After the first hat trick, Chinapoo refused to gloat. Instead he said all the right things again: "It was just one game and I scored three goals. I'm not out to prove anything. I know what I can do."
With 19 games left on a shortened 40-game schedule, the Blast (10-11) finds itself in a fierce battle for one of the four playoff berths in the seven-team league.
And the vibes weren't too good coming out of Dallas.
"Tonight we played like it was the first time we had ever played together," Cooper said after the game. "This was a humbling experience for everybody."