The Baltimore Bays' Billy Ronson has been in pro soccer for 21 years, and he has seen worse times than this.
When he was with the Blast, from 1986 to 1992, there was one year the team didn't make the Major Soccer League playoffs. That still burns in his memory.
The Bays, in their maiden season in the U.S. Interregional Soccer League, are reeling. They are 0-4 going into tonight's game against the Columbia (S.C.) Spirit at UMBC Stadium.
With a quarter of the season gone, the Bays will be hard-pressed to become one of the four teams in the nine-team Atlantic Division to qualify for the playoffs.
"You don't panic," said Ronson, 36, the Bays' player-coach. "You plug away. We can still make the playoffs. Not to make excuses, but we're a new franchise and the players, many of them young, haven't been together long. It takes time to learn to play together."
The Bays have been outscored, 8-4. Ronson insists goalie Steve Powers is blameless.
"None of the goals has been his fault," Ronson said. "It's the team's fault. If he drops a ball, it's his fault. But he hasn't dropped one."
Powers, a 29-year-old Philadelphian and one of only four non-Marylanders on the squad, played for the University of Maryland and then for the Maryland Bays for five years. He was MVP in the 1990 American Professional Soccer League championship game.
"We have yet to play good team defense, and it could be a matter of only a game or two more before we do," Powers said.
"It's hard for a new, young team to practice twice a week and then be thrown out on the field and expected to win. We're a bunch of individuals trying to come together as a team and get a collective win."