Blast can't stop Sockers as it starts season with 5-3 loss

San Diego's power play is difference in opener

Pro Soccer

October 10, 2004|By Glae Thien | Glae Thien,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SAN DIEGO - The Blast opened its MISL season last night in less-than-championship form.

Hurt by two San Diego power-play goals, the two-time defending titlists lost to the Sockers, 5-3.

Steve Butcher scored his second goal of the night on the power play with 3:36 left to put San Diego ahead 4-3.

Then he assisted on a sixth-attacker score with 37.8 seconds remaining for the first two-goal margin of the game, played before 7,226.

Denison Cabral accounted for the only Blast goal of the second half when he scored 1:34 into the fourth quarter for a 3-3 tie.

P.J. Wakefield had two assists for the visitors, who were outshot 27-18.

The Blast fell behind 41 seconds into the game when San Diego's Mark Ughy scored on a power play. But Giuliano Celenza tied it up when he scored on a rebound with 4:42 left in the first quarter.

Former Socker Chile Farias put the Blast ahead 2-1 by scoring on a long, bouncing shot 2:18 into the second period,

Butcher tied it again with a goal 4 minutes into the third quarter.

The Sockers, who missed the playoffs last season, went ahead when rookie Herculez Gomez nudged a loose ball near the goal line past prone keeper Brian Rowland with 2:43 left in the third period.

Rowland started in goal for the Blast rather than the newly acquired Sagu, who joined the team at midweek after being acquired in a trade with Cleveland. The Blast is looking to fill the void created by the retirement of Scott Hileman after an eight-year career.

"Brian has been working hard and deserves a shot," Blast coach Tim Wittman said. "I really love to get a tandem going. I hope it works out."

The Blast was without midfielder David Bascome, who is still recovering from offseason knee surgery. He is due back no later than the end of the month.

Former Blast defender Sean Bowers, an All-Star dealt to San Diego last season, missed the game because he's still unsigned. He met with incoming Sockers owner Raj Kalra late last week in an effort to resolve the contract dispute.

Bowers said he took a pay cut of some 60 percent when he returned to his native San Diego to play for the Sockers. At issue now is a proposed cut in his base pay, since Bowers said there was an agreement to receive at least the same pay for two years.

Last season, Bowers led the Sockers with six points in four games against his former club.

"I think the Sockers are going to be very good this year," Wittman said. "I think they were good last year, but a goal here and there changes their whole season around."

Blast 1 1 0 1 - 3

San Diego 1 0 2 2 - 5

First quarter- San Diego, Ughy pp (Cloutier), 0:41; Blast, Celenza (Garcia), 10:18. Penalties-Blast, Tachantrat, tripping (dissent), 0:17. Second quarter-Blast, Farias (Wakefield), 2:18. Penalties-None. Third quarter-San Diego, Butcher (Mack), 4:00; San Diego, Gomez (Antoniuk), 12:17. Penalties-Blast, Cabral, yellow card (conduct), 8:54; San Diego, Mack, yellow card (conduct), 8:54. Fourth quarter- Blast, Cabral (Wakefield), 1:34; San Diego, Butcher pp (Wright), 11:24; San Diego, Allegre (Butcher). Penalties-Blast, Garcia, holding, 11:21. Shots on goal-Blast 5-3-4-6 18; San Diego 9-4-6-8 27. Power play- Blast 0-0, San Diego 2-2. Shootouts- Blast 0-0, San Diego 0-0. Goalkeepers- Blast, Rowland, 15 shots, 11 saves; Kelly, sixth attacker, 1 shot, 0 saves. San Diego, Nogueira, 10 shots, 7 saves.

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