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Mutiny hits the bottom

A 4-0 home loss to Miami gives Tampa Bay MLS' fewest points.

By RODNEY PAGE

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 27, 2001


TAMPA -- Mutiny coach Alfonso Mondelo and general manager Bill Manning have resisted pressing the panic button during the team's recent skid. But after a 4-0 loss to Miami on Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium, Mondelo said it's time to mash the button.

Tampa Bay played without midfielder Steve Ralston (red card suspension) and forward Mamadou Diallo (three-game disciplinary suspension) and used forward Ali Curtis as a left-sided defender. The result was the club's worst home loss since a 5-1 loss to D.C. United in 1997.

And things could get worse if midfielder Carlos Valderrama is disciplined for a post-game altercation with Fusion midfielder Ian Bishop. Valderrama had words with Bishop when Bishop sat on the ball after the referee's final whistle.

"At this time the team's just not good enough," Mondelo said. "We're getting exposed no matter how we try things. Game after game we create opportunities but we can't put the ball in the net. At this point the team needs new blood or the season is going to go south quickly. We're going to have to make some trades."

The Mutiny is 2-6-1, its worst start since 1998, and has the fewest points in Major League Soccer with seven. It has a five-game winless streak and is 0-3-1 at home. Miami (7-1-1) leads the league with 22 points.

Miami's first two goals came from unlikely sources. In the 20th minute midfielder Jim Rooney scored on a perfectly executed free kick from 21 yards. Bishop faked a shot and Preki followed with a backheel flick to Rooney, who blasted a right-footer into the upper right corner.

Six minutes later Chris Henderson scored his first goal. Ivan McKinley tip-toed down the left sideline and crossed to Henderson, whose shot from 15 yards went between goalkeeper Scott Garlick's legs.

Momentum appeared to change in the second half when the Mutiny earned a penalty kick on Henderson's handball in the box in the 49th minute. Valderrama took the kick, but his shot missed wide right. He converted a penalty kick last week against the Fusion.

"We had a chance to get back in the game with the penalty kick but unfortunately Carlos missed it," Mondelo said. "We went down from there."

In the 67th minute, Diego Serna scored when he took Jay Heaps' pass 15 yards from goal and blasted a shot that hit the crossbar and bounded back in play. Serna headed the ball from 5 yards into the open net.

He scored again in the 90th minute from 5 yards.

"I know we were playing a wounded animal," Fusion coach Ray Hudson said. "There's an old expression, you don't kick a dog when it's down. I don't know any better time to kick a dog."

The Mutiny released midfielder Brian Kelly and made defender Scott Cannon a discovery player.

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