Francisco Marcos, commissioner of the U.S. Interregional Soccer League, gave his assessment of the Atlantic Division in a single phrase: "It'll be dog eat dog."
The trouble is, the Baltimore Bays are being devoured.
Terry Locklear's front flip, performed in delight after he scored 65 minutes into the game, was the only highlight for the Bays last night, as they stretched their season-opening losing streak to four by bowing to the Greensboro Dynamo, 2-1, before 845 at UMBC Stadium.
"Despite Baltimore's 0-4, this is a very competitive division," Marcos said. "Only two games have been decided by more than one goal, and those by two. The others were overtime, shootouts or one-goal games."
Even the addition of a quality player, Sam Mangione, was of little
help to the Bays. In his Bays debut, Mangione, a former Loyola College star, took three of the Bays' 18 shots, but came up empty.
"I was a little tentative at first because I wasn't sure of my condition," Mangione said. "But I quickly got over it."
Although outshot in the first half, 12-6, the Bays finished with an 18-16 edge.
"It was like two different halves," coach Kevin Healey said. "In the first half we just weren't getting up and down the field. We made adjustments, and the second half was ours. We just couldn't get the ball in. You could see bright spots.
"Four of the nine teams in our division will make the playoffs. We can still make it. We've got to fight our way through this."
Greensboro took a 1-0 first-half lead on a kick by Gabe Garcia while Baltimore goalie Steve Powers was tangled up on the ground with JasonHaupt, who got an assist on the play. After stealing the ball from John Karpovich, Haupt shot, Powers deflected the ball and was promptly tied up by Haupt. Garcia tapped in the ball.
The Dynamo made it 2-0 with 6:23 left in the first half. Eddie Radwanski passed 25 yards to Kenny Gasser, who converted.
Already one-quarter of the way through their 16-game schedule without a victory, the Bays next will entertain the Columbia (S.C.) Spirit Saturday at 7:30 at UMBC Stadium.
"It'll come with time," Mangione said. "We came on in the second half. All we needed was a few breaks."
NOTES: The Bays played without John Stroud (bruised shin), Derrick Marcano (out of town, personal reasons) and Chris Reif (out until mid-June with a nerve injury in leg). . . . Marcos also made stops Friday in Greensboro, where the crowd was 3,500, and Saturday in Raleigh (almost 2,000). . . . "I'm trying to see all the teams, two or three a weekend," Marcos said.