No welcome mat: Blast rolls in opener

pro soccer

November 16, 2008|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Special to The Baltimore Sun

If last night's season openers in the National Indoor Soccer League indicated anything, it is that the new franchises have some serious catching up to do to challenge the establishment.

At 1st Mariner Arena, the Blast quickly showed its more cohesive play and tougher defense against the Rockford (Ill.) Rampage and went on to delight an announced crowd of 9,028 with a 14-4 victory.

Two hours away in Philadelphia, the KiXX taught the other fledgling entry, the Massachusetts Twisters, a crushing lesson by a 34-11 score.

Although Rockford, late of the American Indoor Soccer League, has a number of notables from the old MISL, it couldn't keep pace with a veteran Blast team that is accustomed to playing together. By halftime, Baltimore had a 12-0 cushion and Denison Cabral, the franchise's all-time leading scorer, already had a hat trick.

The Blast players received their 2008 championship rings from owner Ed Hale and the championship banner was raised in the end zone above the stage.

Rampage goalkeeper Sanaldo, who was in the cage when the Blast clinched the 2006 MISL title, changed from a black jersey to a red one similar to the Blast's main home color. Whether symbolic or not, it helped calm the Blast offense, but nothing changed on the other end. The Rampage still couldn't penetrate the best defense in the indoor game until far too late in the game.

The Blast's Sagu was making a bid for his third career shutout until nearly midway in the fourth period when Matt Stewart scored from out front, beating the goalie with a hard delivery to the lower left corner.

The Blast is 14-3 in its past 17 home openers and counting the MISL playoffs, has won six straight.

The Blast is off before visiting Rockford on Dec. 6.

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