It was one of those nights when the goal seemed to have a shield across it and, as a result, the Blast's most extensive homestand of the season was launched in inauspicious fashion at 1st Mariner Arena.
The Blast outshot visiting Milwaukee, but the Wave received better production from its chances and scored a 7-2 Major Indoor Soccer League victory last night before 6,015.
Coach Danny Kelly was incensed by his team's performance, which marked only its second loss in six games at the arena and was the sixth in the past seven games overall.
"The performance was embarrassing," Kelly said. "We were outplayed and outworked, and some of these guys need to realize what it means to put on a Baltimore Blast uniform. I'm questioning the heart of some of the guys in the locker room. Some of the mistakes were inexcusable and there are going to be some changes, probably for tomorrow [today]."
Nearly 88 playing minutes elapsed between the Blast's previous goal at home (in a 6-4 loss to the Detroit Ignition) and Denison Cabral's score late in the fourth quarter that averted a shutout.
Captain P.J. Wakefield (who had been injured) and midfielder Jonathan Steele (who had been suspended) returned for the Blast (5-8), which fell behind 7-0 against a team that ended a two-game losing streak under assistant coach Art Kramer. The head coach, Keith Tozer, missed the game after receiving a red card in the previous outing, an overtime loss to Detroit.
But Kelly didn't miss it, and he didn't like a thing that he saw.
"We didn't do a lot of things well. Some guys don't know their responsibilities in certain situations," he said in a firm but clear post-game assessment. "Because we had some injuries, I think some guys have gotten too comfortable because there's no competition for spots. They will not be comfortable anymore."
Wakefield, who returned after missing eight games with a foot injury, said that Kelly "has a right to be" unhappy. "To be at home and only score one goal is not going to get it done. It seems like nothing went right."
Milwaukee (7-8) scored its first two goals off set plays on a free kick and a corner kick. The second goal went to Greg Howes, the MISL's second-leading scorer, who has nine goals in three games against the Blast. Todd Dusosky scored the first goal to remain four points behind Howes.
Brian Rowland did a creditable job as the Blast goalkeeper, but faced only 12 shots. The Blast doubled that, but failed to convert three power-play opportunities and generally played a sluggish game.
Milwaukee 2 2 3 0 - 7
Blast 0 0 0 2 - 2
First quarter: 1. Milwaukee, Todd Dusosky (Troy Dusosky), 8:03. Penalties: None. Second quarter: 2. Milwaukee, Howes (Todd Dusosky), 12:27. Penalty: M, Torres, 10:52.; M, Wiesner, 3:56. Third quarter: 3. Milwaukee, Hammes (unassisted), 6:07. Penalties: None. Fourth quarter: 4. Blast, Cabral (Wakefield), 9:01. Penalty: M, Maher, 4:59; B, Steele, 10:56. A: 6,015.
Matchup -- California Cougars (5-10) at Blast (5-8)
Site -- 1st Mariner Arena
Time -- 7:35
Radio -- WCBM (680 AM)
Series record -- Blast leads 2-1
Outlook -- The Blast continues its longest homestand of the season (five games) against a team it has routed twice, 22-6 and 20-9. The latter result was its only victory in the past seven games. The Cougars, who lost at Detroit last night, have only one road win. Bernie Lilavois (35 points) and Vicente Figueroa (34) are their leading scorers, and Lilavois tops the league in assists. The Blast continues to lead the MISL in attendance, by more than 3,000 fans per date.