The Mutiny's home form stays woeful as the Wizards rally to win 2-1.
By RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 3, 2001
TAMPA -- The result was the same as in six of the past seven games. But unlike recent losses, Saturday's 2-1 setback to Kansas City gave the Mutiny reason for optimism.
Defender Steve Trittschuh returned two weeks early from a broken right leg, played 62 minutes and scored the Mutiny's goal. Midfielder Steve Ralston looked comfortable at center midfield, where he replaced the suspended Carlos Valderrama.
Ali Curtis moved back to forward after playing left back in last week's loss to Miami and had two near misses. The Mutiny led at home for the first time this season. Tampa Bay even avoided a red card for the first time in three games.
But the Raymond James Stadium crowd of 9,834 also saw the Mutiny's seventh straight without a win and fifth winless home game. The Mutiny is 2-7-1, last in Major League Soccer. "With the exception of the result, I'm pretty pleased with the guys' performance tonight," Mutiny coach Alfonso Mondelo said. "Considering we're missing some of our major guns, the boys did a good job. We didn't come away with the win we wanted, but this team is vastly improved over our last game here against Miami."
In that 4-0 loss, Valderrama received a red card for spitting on a Miami player. Saturday, the Mutiny looked organized without him and jumped to an early 1-0 lead.
Trittschuh's goal came in the 11th minute and was the Mutiny's first non-penalty kick goal in 292 minutes. Eric Quill set things up with a perfectly placed free kick on the left side 25 yards from goal.
Trittschuh took the ball and angled a header from 15 yards into the upper right corner.
"It's been a while," Trittschuh said. "Quilly gave me a good ball. The only place I could put it was the far post. Luckily it went in."
The lead lasted nine minutes.
In the 20th minute, Francisco Gomez benefitted from a precise redirect by Onandi Lowe on the left. Gomez beat Josh Keller and Lowe's pass hit him in stride. He angled a shot from 10 yards into the lower right corner.
Former Mutiny player Roy Lassiter scored the winner in the 52nd minute. Chris Klein took a pass from Gomez down the right sideline and crossed to Lassiter, who was open 7 yards from goal.
Lassiter became the first MLS player to reach 200 career points. It was his seventh goal and fifth assist against Tampa Bay since being traded midway through the 1998 season.
Tampa Bay had several near misses. In a span of six minutes late in the game, Quill hit the post and Curtis had a shot saved just over the bar.
"You can't get any luck," Curtis said. "It's really frustrating. We know we have the team and we know we work hard. It's not like teams work any harder than we do."
The Mutiny has reason to feel optimistic. Forward Mamadou Diallo returns for Wednesday's home game against Dallas after a three-game suspension, and Valderrama also will be back.
Mondelo believes Valderrama could've made a difference in Saturday's game.
"We never had that killer pass," Mondelo said. "While we did work well and were well organized, we didn't have the stroke of genius."