This time, there was no second-half fade; the Maryland Mania seems fit. This time, the home team dominated play and generated offense -- 10 shots in the last 25 minutes, in fact. But this time also proved that soccer is a particularly cruel sport when you don't score.
Thus the young Mania suffered its eighth loss in nine A-League starts, second of the weekend, fourth by a goal, and second by 1-0 at UMBC Stadium in three weeks to the fellow expansion franchise Lehigh Valley Steam.
At the end, two statistics stood out for the announced 650 in the stands -- that final score and shots, in which the Mania prevailed, 22-8. Indeed, some of that prevalence was defensively, too, because from the 48th minute until the very last, the Steam (3-3) took no chances, as well as no shots.
"No excuses," said the Mania's leading scorer, Todd Haskins, who sent two balls from in close over the crossbar in the first half, missed another in the second half but created at least other five scoring chances for teammates. "You've got to put the ball in the net."
"We had four opportunities -- two in the first half, two in the second -- that sailed over the crossbar," said Mania coach Paul Kitson, shaking his head. "These are opportunities that goal-scorers at this level take full advantage of. As anyone can see, there's no way we're going to win games if we don't score."
Especially galling was forward Nicola Corneli's hard, dipping free kick from 35 yards directly in front of the goal in the 83rd minute, which Steam goalkeeper Tom Dutra bobbled off his chest but scrambled to recover with four Mania players mere feet away.
Lehigh Valley got the game's only score in the ninth minute with the type of goal that has plagued the Mania -- a breakaway. This time it was Steam forward Gabe Garcia, who collected a loose ball on the left about 35 yards from goal, dribbled in and beat keeper Russell Payne from about 10 yards.
With the Steam focused on defending that lead, the Mania created chance after frustrating chance in the final 35 minutes, among them defender Trevor Ellis's 28-yarder that Dutra touched over in the 65th minute, Haskins' curling restart in the 75th that Dutra snared with a dive, and Corneli's shot three minutes later that a sliding defender kicked away.
But all the Mania got was its second straight loss and an extension of another dubious record: no second-half goals this season.
Goals: LV-Garcia (9). Shots: LV-8, M-22. Saves: LV Dutra, 7; M Payne, 2. Yellow cards: LV 2, M 1. Half: LV 1-0.