Baltimore Blast coach Kenny Cooper said he could have taken the night off if he had known how well the team was going to play.
"Jimmy [Pollihan, assistant coach] and I could have gone and sit in the stands the way we played," said Cooper. "We stuck to our system perfectly and played great one-touch, two-touch soccer all night. In my 11 years of coaching this team, it was the greatest performance ever."
The result was a 6-0 victory over the Tacoma Stars before 9,279 at the Baltimore Arena on an evening when goalkeeper Scott Manning did what many thought to be impossible this season.
Manning shut out the Stars despite the larger goals in the Major Soccer League this season (14 1/2 feet wide and 7 1/2 feet high instead of 12 1/2 feet wide and 6 1/2 feet high last season).
It was only the second shutout by a goalkeeper in the MSL this season, with the first coming Jan. 12 by the San Diego Sockers' Victor Nogueira against the Dallas Sidekicks, 7-0.
Manning, 33, was superb in the final 9 minutes, 27 seconds of the game when he held off the Stars, who had gone to a sixth attacker in Greg Ion.
Manning batted away several shots and wound up with 12 saves for his fifth shutout in 12 years in the league.
But Manning and most of his teammates said they had seen him play better games in his career.
Manning said: "When you get a shutout with these bigger goals, you have to give the credit to the field players, because there's no way a goalkeeper can cover the entire net. You have to get a lot of help."
Blast defender Bruce Savage, a longtime friend of Manning's and his roommate on the road, said jokingly, "It was about No. 31 on the list of Scott's best games."
Manning got more than enough offensive help from Billy Ronson, who had his second straight hat trick.
Ronson had three goals and one assist, and Domenic Mobilio had two goals and one assist.
Blast midfielder Richard Chinapoo played with a lot of emotion last night, possibly hoping to get Cooper and the Blast to reconsider trading him to the Dallas Sidekicks for Doc Lawson.
Cooper said after the game that the trade was still in "a holding pattern and in Richard's hands."
Chinapoo and Sidekicks coach Gordon Jago have been negotiating the past few days over a contract that would suit Chinapoo and compensate him financially for leaving Baltimore to move to Dallas.
"We've already come to terms with Doc Lawson," said Cooper. "But the trade won't be official until Dallas can make Richard happy. Doc doesn't want to come here unless Richard is happy with what Dallas offers him."
Lawson has been with Dallas three consecutive years and has the right to veto the trade. Chinapoo has no veto power and said: "So how can the trade be in my hands? I'm a member of the Baltimore Blast and will play here until I'm told to leave."
Chinapoo also said, "You know I want to retire in Baltimore. I've said that all along. I said it's all in Doc's hands. If he thinks I'm being compensated enough by Dallas to come there and feels comfortable with the trade, then I guess it's OK. It's Doc's decision."
Cooper said there would have been no trade talk if the Blast had played like it did last night earlier in the season.
"I don't like to talk about trades and we wouldn't if the team would play like this more often," said Cooper.