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Blast facing big home challenges this weekend at SECU Arena

Milwaukee Wave (12-2) at Blast (9-5)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

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Utica City FC (11-4) vs. Blast

When: Sunday, 3 p.m.

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Where: SECU Arena

Tickets: 410-73-BLAST, ticketmaster.com or baltimoreblast.com

The Blast broke a three-game Major Arena Soccer League losing streak by scoring the game's first eight goals and routing the Harrisburg Heat, 9-3, on Sunday before an announced 3,530 at SECU Arena in Towson.

Outlook: As regular seasons go, this weekend is by far the biggest in a long time for the three-time defending Major Arena Soccer League champion Blast. While there is no threat of them missing the playoffs, they do have an opportunity to gain some reassurance going up against two teams that recently beat them and have better records. It’s a rare spot for the Blast, who trail Utica City by 1½ games in the Eastern Division. The Wave, which claimed a 4-2 home win against the Blast on Feb. 2, are longtime rivals and have a tight hold of first place in the South Central Division. On Sunday, the Blast get a chance to avenge their worst loss in recent years when Utica City returns to Baltimore for the first time since a stunning 9-1 win Feb. 8. Since the embarrassing loss to Utica City, the Blast have won two straight — most recently getting a hat trick from Vini Dantas in a 6-3 win at lowly Mississauga last Friday. The Blast’s defense, led by goalie William Vanzela, will be tested in both games. The Wave are led by Ian Bennett’s 26 goals with ex-Blast player Max Ferdinand (five goals, 19 assists) enjoying another fine season. Utica City features Slavisa Ubiparipovic (16 goals, 19 assists) and Bo Jelovac, who had a four-point performance in the Feb. 8 win. Jonatas Melo (12 goals, nine assists) and Dantas (15 goals, five assists) lead the home team in scoring. On Sunday, the Blast will induct past greats Giuliano Celenza and PJ Wakefield into their Hall of Fame with a halftime ceremony.

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