The good news for the Blast is they’e 4-1 in the Major Arena Soccer League this season.
The bad news? They have yet to resemble the team that has won the past two league championships and has been a perennial powerhouse.
In prior seasons, the Blast buried a winless opponent that came into their home arena playing its second road game in as many nights.
But on Saturday against the St. Louis Ambush, which had lost 19 straight games dating to last season, the Blast didn’t bully them — instead needing a fourth-quarter rally to claim a 5-4 win before an announced crowd of 2,923 at Towson University’s SECU Arena.
Trailing 4-2 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, the Blast got two goals from Lucas Roque and then a game-winning goal from Jamie Thomas with 1:51 to play to pull out the win.
It was the second home win as many nights for the Eastern Division-leading Blast and their third one-goal victory of the season.
Blast coach Danny Kelly said there’s no easy games in the MASL.
“St. Louis was good – they played well,” he said. “Fundamentally, there’s things we’ve got to do better. Keeping our balance on the field, taking care of the ball – we created a lot of problems for ourselves.
“It was a classic indoor game — back and forth – and we found a way to win. But if we’re going to do anything this season, we’re going to have to do better.”
Through five games last season, the Blast had the same 4-1 record, but had outscored their opponents by a whopping 33-12 margin during that stretch.
Through five games this season, they’ve played four one-goal games while winning by three on Friday.
“I don’t think we’re playing our best and we’re far away from where we should be, but in the previous seasons it’s been the same thing,” said Blast goalkeeper William Vanzela, who finished with 14 saves. “It takes us some time to adjust our new players to our system and to make them understand that the reality is we’re not a fancy team. We’re the workers, so when we start doing the hard work we’re talking about and put our heart into our play, the good things come our way because we deserve it.
“So we’re far away from where we should be, but great effort — we came back the last quarter [and] scored three goals and won, which is most important.”
The Blast return to SECU Arena on Dec. 10 to take on the Florida Tropics in a chance to avenge the season’s only loss. In Florida, the Tropics handed the Blast a 5-4 setback on Nov. 18.
It was apparent early that the Blast would have a tough assignment Saturday.
At the outset, the visitors looked fresher and they took a 1-0 lead about three minutes into play when Clayton Matheus found the upper right corner off a feed from Pablo Da Silva. Tony Donatelli, who scored three goals in Friday’s win over the Ontario Fury, once again delivered. He scored on a free kick to tie the game with 4:58 to play in the first quarter. He then gave the Blast their only lead of the first half with a brilliant volley off a crossfield pass from Adriano Dos Santos on the power play with 5:43 left in the second quarter.
The Blast, susceptible to permitting goals late in quarters all season, allowed another when Da Silva finished off a chance from the left side to tie the game with 1:35 left before halftime.
In the third quarter, the Blast failed to put a shot on goal, while the Ambush took a 3-2 lead on a goal from Corey Adamson with 5:30 to play. The visitors scored 13 seconds into the fourth quarter to build the game’s first two-goal lead for either team before Roque answered 29 seconds later.
Vanzela said in addition to the new players getting familiar with the team’s system, the entire team is still getting used to SECU Arena’s small field.
“The small field makes things equal,” he said. “So everybody has opportunities to score goals and makes it tough. So I expect every home game we play to be a test. I think at the end of the season, we’re going to play much better and teams will be in trouble. But I expect tough games every time we play at home.”
St. Louis 1 1 1 1 -- 4
Blast 1 1 0 3 -- 5
Scoring: 1, St. Louis, Matheus, (Da Silva) 2:58; 2. Blast, Donatelli, 10:02.
Scoring: 3. Blast, Donatelli, PP. (Dos Santos), 9:17; 4. St. Louis, Da Silva, (Matheus), 12:41
Scoring: 5. St. Louis, Adamson, 9:30
Scoring: 5. St. Louis, Matheus, (Moreira), :13; 6. Blast, Roque, (Pereira), :42; 7. Blast, Roque, (Dos Santos), 10:04; 8. Blast, Thomas, (Melo), 13:09
Shots on goal: St. Louis 6-7-9-12 -- 34; Blast 5-9-0-0 – 23
Power-play opportunities: St. Louis 0-for-1; Blast 1-for-2
Saves: St. Louis, Nascimento 4-4-0-4 -- 12; Blast, Vanzela 4-1-5-4 – 14