The Blast and visiting Mississauga MetroStars played their expected roles in Saturday’s Major Arena Soccer League season opener.
The home team mostly looked every bit like the three-time defending league champions, while the Ontario-based MetroStars showed more inexperience than fight in the franchise’s first game.
Aside from a brief stretch in the second quarter, the Blast were in charge, getting points from nine different players and 13 saves from goalie William Vanzela in an 11-3 win before an announced sellout crowd of 3,811 at Towson University’s SECU Arena.
The Blast return to action Sunday afternoon, traveling to New York to take on expansion Utica City FC with game time set for 2 p.m.
Jon Orlando (two goals, one assist), Daniel Peruzzi (two goals, one assist) Jonatas Melo (one goal, two assists) and Tony Donatelli (three assists) led the Blast offense with three points each, while Adriano Dos Santos and Vini Dantas each scored twice.
“We showed 11 goals, which is great to have and a lot of different goal scorers, so it was good to be balanced,” Donatelli said. “When teams want to focus on one or two guys, it makes it predictable. The way we play, we want to be balanced, have different weapons with somebody different and it makes us hard to defend against us.”
Minutes after unveiling their most recent championship banner, the Blast went to work to set the game’s tone.
Orlando and Dantas scored 31 seconds apart in the first three minutes and then they scored on a textbook power play a bit later — Donatelli finding Dos Santos on the right side for an easy tap-in and a 3-0 lead with 8:26 left in the first quarter.
Vanzela made sure the margin would hold going into the second quarter with six acrobatic saves, including three straight to frustrate MetroStars midfielder Luis Rocha.
To the visitors’ credit, they settled in and briefly made a game of it with two straight goals in the second quarter to cut the lead to 3-2. But Peruzzi made the end of the first half his very own with two consecutive goals in the final three minutes as the Blast restored their three-goal advantage.
The Blast poured it on in a third quarter that was highlighted by Melo, who made it 6-2 just 1:10 into play before climbing over the boards, hopping a couple rows and proposing to his girlfriend and new fiancee, Jen. A “yes” came with a hug and extended applause from the big crowd.
“In the first half, I hit two posts and I said, ‘Oh my God.’ But I tried to keep calm and knew the chances were coming,” Melo said. “In the second half, [Andrew] Hoxie gave me an easy tap-in at the back post and I was just excited to score and go propose.”
The Blast outscored the MetroStars, 6-1, in the second half to pull away.
Mississauga 0 2 0 1 — 3
Blast 3 2 3 3 — 11
Scoring: 1. Blast, Orlando (Melo), 1:38; 2. Blast, Dantas, (Periera), 2:09; 3. Blast, Dos Santos, (Donatelli), pp., 6:34
Scoring: 4. Mississauga, De Rosario (Dumevski), 6:55; 5. Mississauga, Badmouli, (Dumevski), pp., 11:09; 6. Blast, Peruzzi, (Donatelli), 12:47; 7. Blast, Peruzzi, (Hughes), 14:42.
Scoring: 8. Blast, Melo, (Hoxie), 1:19; 9. Blast, Dantas, 3:56; 10. Blast, Hoxie, (Melo) 9:21.
Scoring: 11. Mississauga, De Rosario, (Velastegui), 1:19; 12. Blast, Pereira, (Orlando), 3:21; 13. Blast, Dos Santos, (Donatelli), 6:46; 14. Blast, Orlando, (Peruzzi) 12:24
Shots on goal: Mississauga 7-7-2-9 -- 25; Blast 8-12-5-6 — 31.
Power-play opportunities: Mississauga 1-for-2; Blast 2-for-2.
Saves: Mississauga Stergiotis 1-5-2-1 -- 9; Blast, Vanzela 6-3-1-3 -- 13
A — 3,811