The expansion Monterrey La Raza got a rude welcome when it came to Baltimore for the first time last night.
After a sluggish start, the Blast peppered the visitors from Mexico with a volley of effective shots and earned a 12-9 Major Indoor Soccer League victory by withstanding the La Raza's late flurry in front of 6,106 at 1st Mariner Arena.
The outcome gave the first-place Blast (5-0) a one-game lead over the second-place Chicago Storm, which hosts the New Jersey Ironmen tonight.
With the help of superior ball control by his teammates, Blast backup goalie Dave Kern nearly pitched a shutout for the final 3 1/2 quarters, while Denison Cabral (two goals) and Robbie Aristodemo (a goal and two assists) paced a relentless offense. La Raza (1-3) finally scored twice off the sixth-attacker formation to produce the final score after P.J. Wakefield barely had missed an open goal from long range.
In its fourth home game of the season, the Blast dominated the play early but had trouble filling the net as Monterrey jumped ahead, 5-0.
Despite an 11-3 deficit in shots during the first 15 minutes, La Raza made its few attempts count, taking the lead on a free-kick goal by Genoni Martinez and increasing it when Dino Delevski sent a blazer past Kern on the power play.
But the complexion changed in the second quarter when the Blast outshot its opponent, 11-0.
Within 2 1/2 minutes, the difference was shaved to one on a goal by Cabral, with Aristodemo assisting, and Scott Buete's first MISL goal, after a crossing pass from Michael Todd.
More than 11 scoreless minutes elapsed before Baltimore grabbed its first lead at 13:45, with Aristodemo hitting the net on a left-footed shot after a pass from Machel Millwood.
"We weren't fundamentally sound at all, weren't passing, staying with our men or communicating," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "We didn't deserve to have the lead, but at halftime we regrouped."
Baltimore broke away in the third quarter, registering three goals in less than six minutes with three different players (Mike Lookingland, Billy Nelson and Cabral) scoring on assists from three different teammates (Rey Martinez, Aristodemo and Millwood, respectively). By the end of the quarter, the Blast boasted a 39-9 advantage in shots on goal.
"Overall, we had a good game," Aristodemo said. "We started poorly, but we dug ourselves out of a hole and picked it up."
The Blast again played without four of its key components: goalkeeper Sagu, forwards Aduato Neto and Giuliano Celenza, and player-coach David Bascome, all of whom were sidelined with injuries. At least two of those players are expected back when the Blast resumes play Nov. 30 at Detroit.
Monterrey 5 0 0 4 - 9
Blast 0 6 6 0 - 12
First quarter: 1. Monterrey, Martinez (unassisted), 1:51; 2. Monterrey, Delevski (Bontti) (3-pt. goal), 7:28. Penalties: B, Lookingland, 5:51; M, Gilbert, 10:47. Second quarter: 3. Blast, Cabral (Aristodemo), 1:37; 4. Blast, Buete (Todd), 2:32; 5. Blast, Aristodemo (Millwood), 13:45. Penalties: M, Too many men, 1:17 Third quarter: 6. Blast, Lookingland (Martinez), 6:22; 7. Blast, Nelson (Aristodemo), 9:10; 8. Blast, Cabral (Millwood), 12:02. Penalties: None. Fourth quarter: 9. Monterrey, Medina (Vega), 13:28; 10. Monterrey, Vega (Martinez), 13.55. Penalties: B, Watson, 14:01. Att: 6,106.