During the golden age of Major Indoor Soccer League in the 1980s, the game featured players who dazzled fans with their nifty footwork, creativity and individual skills.
In the second quarter, he tied the game with a side-winding, half-volley from deep in the right corner that found the top of the net.
With the game still tied in the third quarter and the Blast on a power play, Neto's perfectly timed backheel pass in tight quarters found a streaking Lucio Gonzaga, who scored to give the home team its first lead.
The Blast rolled from there, getting a second goal from Gonzaga and a three-point goal from Max Ferdinand later in the third quarter to come away with a 14-6 win over the Comets before an announced 4,129 at Baltimore Arena.
“Neto is a special player, and he has been for a long time,” Blast coach Danny Kelly said. “Hopefully, he's got more of those special moments coming because you see it. Not many guys in the game can do what he does.”
In a battle for second place in the MISL, the Blast improved to 6-2 this season and won its fifth straight game to move a half-game behind the first-place Milwaukee Wave (6-1). Tony Donatelli finished with two goals and two assists, for seven points total, securing the Blast's win with a three-point goal in the final minute as the Comets (5-3) played with an extra attacker.
The Blast returns to Baltimore Arena on Saturday night to face the expansion Pennsylvania Roar, which is 0-9 in its first season. The Blast had outscored the Roar by a combined 74-2 in three straight victories entering its game against the Comets.
In the 21-day stretch before Friday night, the Blast allowed only two points in four games, and had three rare shutouts, against inferior MISL competition. In the first two minutes Friday, the Comets scored four points.
The poor start put the Blast in an early hole it slowly climbed out of. Donatelli scored with 3:18 left in the first quarter to cut the deficit to 4-2, and Neto tied the game at 4 with 9:15 remaining in the second quarter. Later in the quarter, the Blast killed off a two-minute Comets power play to keep the game tied at 4 going into the second half. Gonzaga's goal, off the slick pass from Neto, put the Blast ahead, 6-4.
“It was a big goal for us,” Neto said.
After early success, the Comets were held scoreless for almost three quarters, breaking through only when Leo Gibson scored his second goal of the game 2:11 into the fourth quarter to cut the Blast's lead to 11-6.
“For the most part, we held the highest-scoring team in the league to six points, which is not easy to do, but we did it, and I don't think we played our best game defensively,” Kelly said. “Ultimately, a great result for us, but we know we can be better.”
It was the Blast's first home game this season that didn't end with a shutout. In the season opener, the Wave blanked the Blast, which then recorded shutout wins against the Rochester Lancers and Pennsylvania.
Blast 4 0 7 3 -- 14
Missouri 2 2 0 2 – 6
Scoring: 1. Missouri, Palmer, 2 pt., (Assadpour) 2 pt., 1:09; 2. Missouri, Gibson, 2 pt., 2:18; 3. Blast, Donatelli, 2 pt., (Mangione), 11:42
Scoring: 4. Blast, Neto, 2 pt., (Donatelli), 5:45
Penalties: Blast, Deasel, (tripping), 10:13.
Scoring: 5. Blast, Gonzaga, 2 pt. (Neto), pp., 9:28; 6. Blast, Gonzaga, 2 pt., (Donatelli), 13:12; 7. Blast, Ferdinand, 3 pt., 13:59
Penalties: Missouri, Megson, (holding), 8:12; Missouri, Palmer (five-minute misconduct), 14:50
Scoring: 8. Missouri, Gibson, 2 pt., (Rodriguez), 2:11; 9. Blast, Donatelli, 3 pt., 14:05
Shots: Missouri 6-5-4-13-- 28; Blast 6-2-8- 3 -- 19.
Power-play opportunities: Missouri 0-for-1; Blast 1-for-1.
Goalie saves: Missouri: Waltman 3-1-3-1 -- 8; Blast: Vanzela 2-3-2-2 -- 9
A -- 4,129