By RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times, published July 22, 2001
TAMPA -- The ball went in the net. The streamers flew on the field. The celebration was underway.
Then the linesman raised his flag.
Steve Ralston's goal in the 69th minute, the one that would've tied the Mutiny's match against Colorado, was waved off. Tampa Bay has found plenty of ways to lose this season, and Saturday night's 2-1 defeat in front of 9,425 at Raymond James Stadium was another example.
Ralston was ruled offside. There were a few more chances, like Eric Quill's shot that hit the post in the 70th minute, but the Mutiny never equalized. Tampa Bay is 3-16-1, losers of six straight and 13 of 14.
"I thought we tied it up," Ralston said. "If we would've tied it up, who knows what would've happened? I wasn't offsides, but that's the way it's been this season."
The play started when Eric Denton crossed to Mamadou Diallo, who headed the ball 8 yards from goal off the left post. Ralston buried the rebound, only to see the linesman's flag.
Of course, the controversial call wasn't the only thing to blame for the loss.
There were the usual Mutiny defensive lapses, which often come in the waning minutes but this time came early. It took 11 minutes for the first one, when Paul Bravo was lost in space 20 yards from goal.
Marcelo Balboa slotted a pass near midfield to an unmarked Bravo, who settled the ball on the right side, dribbled a few times, and blasted a shot from 12 yards under diving goalkeeper Adin Brown to make it 1-0.
It took nine minutes for the Mutiny to get disorganized again. This time Rapids midfielder Chris Carrieri passed to an open John Spencer 15 yards from goal. Spencer angled a shot from the right side that hit the left post.
The ball bounced back to where Bravo was waiting. His open putback from 5 yards was his 50th career goal.
"Here's a prime example of us beating ourselves," Mutiny coach Perry Van Der Beck said. "We make the mistakes early on in the game and then we spend the next 75-80 minutes or so trying to get back into the game."
Just before halftime, the Mutiny got back in it on a 43rd minute goal by Ralston. Jair crossed to Quill, who flicked a header to Ralston 5 yards from goal. Ralston knocked it in for his fifth goal this season.
The former Mutiny players traded to Colorado on June 28 -- Scott Garlick, Carlos Valderrama and Ritchie Kotschau -- started but figured little in the game.
Tampa Bay and the rest of the league have a week off for Saturday's All-Star Game in San Jose. The Mutiny resumes play Aug. 4 at home against San Jose.
NY-NJ 2, D.C. 1: United's Carey Talley scored into his own goal in the 86th minute to give the host MetroStars the victory. Talley, who tied the score in the 58th minute, accidentally redirected Rodrigo Faria's shot into the net.
COLUMBUS 2, SAN JOSE 1: John Wilmar Perez had a goal and an assist and Tom Presthus made nine saves for host Columbus. Ansil Elcock's goal three minutes into the second half snapped a 1-1 tie.
NEW ENGLAND 1, MIAMI 1: Revolution goalkeeper Jeff Causey made a diving save on Alex Pineda Chacon's point-blank header in the final minute of overtime to preserve a tie for visiting New England.
CAROLINA 2, BOSTON 1: Meredith Florance scored unassisted in the 79th minute to lift visiting Carolina.
Florance got the winner by slipping through the defense and shooting to the right of diving goalkeeper Tracy Ducar.
The Courage fought back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to tie it in the 49th minute on Carla Overbeck's first goal of the season. Overbeck took a feed from Hege Riise and beat Ducar. The Breakers took the lead in the fourth minute when Maren Meinert scored off of Kristine Lilly's corner kick.
UP NEXT: MLS All-Star Game, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, San Jose, Calif., Ch. 28.
MUTINY UP NEXT: vs. San Jose, 7 p.m. Aug. 4, Raymond James Stadium.