The Blast controls its Major Soccer League playoff future tonight for the first time in two years.
Thanks to gutsy performances by the Tacoma Stars and the Dallas Sidekicks last night, the Blast needs only to beat Tacoma tonight at the Baltimore Arena to earn a spot in the postseason party.
The Stars used a fourth-quarter goal by Ralph Black to tie Cleveland, and then Carl Valentine scored in overtime to give Tacoma just its third road win of the season, 6-5.
Meanwhile in Wichita, Dallas lost starting goalkeeper Joe Papaleo to a strained right knee in the first quarter, but still won, 5-3, thanks to a sterling performance by David Doyle in the net.
"I'm not surprised by the results," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper, when he heard the scores last night. "Crazy things happen, and we knew Tacoma would play well.
"Now we control our own destiny. We just have to win games ourselves. That's been our plan. We have to give 110 percent, play tough defensively and put our chances away. We have to finish off what we set out to do -- and that's to win."
The Blast, which is expecting a crowd of about 10,000 tonight, won't have it easy with the Stars. Tacoma is also playing for the final postseason spot.
If the Blast beats Tacoma and Wichita beats Cleveland tonight, the Blast would finish in third place in the league standings and play Dallas in the opening round of the playoffs.
If the Blast wins and Cleveland defeats Wichita, Cleveland will be the third seed. The Blast would face regular-season champion San Diego Wednesday.
Tacoma got two goals from Mark Karpun and one each from Gary Daily, Black and Dale Mitchell, who also assisted on Valentine's game-winner. Mike Dowler was the winning goalkeeper. Cleveland's Otto Orf took the loss.
In Wichita, the Sidekicks took a 4-0 lead and then held on as the Wings rallied with goals by Steve Pittman, Chico Borja and Dan Donigan.