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Many excuses, few victories for the Mutiny

Injuries, red cards, officials, or just plain old poor play have led to an eight-game MLS winless streak.

By RODNEY PAGE

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 9, 2001


The Mutiny can point to many reasons for its failures during its eight-game winless streak. There's the injury excuse. Too many injuries in the defensive half, especially to potential All-Stars Steve Trittschuh and Chad McCarty, made it difficult for the Mutiny to stop anybody.

There's the officiating excuse. This one is rarely talked about publicly, but coaches and players believe questionable calls have given opponents goals or taken away Mutiny goals.

A prime example came Wednesday night when it was ruled defender Craig Demmin made an illegal back pass to goalkeeper Scott Garlick; it appeared the ball deflected off Demmin. Dallas scored on the ensuing free kick and the Mutiny lost 1-0.

There's the red card excuse. Mamadou Diallo, Carlos Valderrama, Steve Ralston and John Maessner have missed at least one game from a red card. And Diallo has missed four other games with a disciplinary suspension.

Then there's the bad luck excuse, referred to as "Mutiny's Law." Whatever can go wrong does go wrong. A bad bounce, a ball off the post. Whatever it takes.

But the Mutiny is running out of excuses. Diallo and Valderrama are back. Trittschuh returned early from a broken right leg. The bench, thanks to early season woes, has gained valuable experience.

The Mutiny is at a loss to explain why it continues to lose.

"You don't know what to do," Ralston said. "You outplay a team and you still can't win. Games we're not playing well we lose. Games we outplay a team we still lose. I wish we knew what the problem was."

Maybe Trittschuh, a veteran of 10 professional seasons, has an answer.

"I don't know," Trittschuh said. "If I had the answers I'd be a coach."

Fair enough. Perhaps coach Alfonso Mondelo knows why the team hasn't earned three points since April21.

"I don't know what to say," Mondelo said. "One of these days we're going to have to start winning. We're doing more things right than wrong but we're just not putting the ball in the back of the net."

So this team with more questions than answers and almost zero confidence will try to snap the streak tonight at New England. The Revolution has won only three games and has allowed 19 goals, second only to the Mutiny's 24.

Another silver lining is that this game is on the road, where the Mutiny has its two wins this season.

It seems like the perfect opponent for the struggling Mutiny, but nothing has been a sure thing.

"The last two games we've played better than the opposition but we're not putting it together," Mondelo said. "We're still not firing on all cylinders. Having guys out three or four weeks doesn't help. There's probably a rustiness up top. But still, somebody has to step up. I still think once we win that one game we'll get on a roll."

The lineup, which hasn't been the same two straight games all season, will change again now that forward Eric Quill is unable to play with a strained right hamstring. Maybe an inconsistent lineup can be added to the list of excuses.

"You've got to keep going," Trittschuh said. "There's still a lot of the season left. It's frustrating, but what can you do? We've been very well organized. We haven't been spread all over the field. I don't know."

Tonight: Mutiny at N.E.

WHEN/WHERE: 7:30; Foxboro (Mass.) Stadium.

TV/RADIO: Sunshine; WWBA-AM 1040, WAMA-AM 1550 (Spanish).

RECORDS: Mutiny 2-8-1, Revolution 3-7-1.

COACHES: Mutiny -- Alfonso Mondelo. Revolution -- Fernando Clavijo.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Revolution -- F Wolde Harris, M Cate, M Leonel Alvarez, D Joe Franchino, G Juergen Sommer. Mutiny -- F Mamadou Diallo, M Carlos Valderrama, M Steve Ralston, G Scott Garlick, D Steve Trittschuh. NOTES: Mutiny M Josh Keller is probable with a strained left knee that kept him out of Wednesday's game. F Eric Quill is out with a strained right hamstring. He and Garlick are the only Mutiny players to start all 11 games this season. The series is tied 9-9. Valderrama has 11 assists against New England. The Revolution is the only team Diallo doesn't have a point against in his brief MLS career. If the Mutiny loses it will be a franchise record sixth straight in regulation. Garlick has not recorded a shutout this season, which ties his longest streak without a clean sheet (1997 with D.C. United). New England has the second-lowest goals against average at home this season (1.00).

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