By RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 30, 2001
TAMPA -- Throughout what has become a painfully long season, the Mutiny has come up with just about every conceivable way to lose. But Wednesday night's 3-2 double overtime loss to Dallas was strange, even by Tampa Bay's standards.
After tying the score at 2 with two minutes left in regulation, Tampa Bay allowed a Jorge Rodriguez goal with four minutes left in the second five-minute overtime to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in front of 4,286 at Raymond James Stadium.
"Four more minutes, four," Mutiny coach Perry Van Der Beck said. "We play hard for four more minutes and we get a result."
Instead, the Mutiny got its 19th loss in 25 games and dropped to 4-19-2. Dallas kept its playoff hopes alive by improving to 10-11-4.
The Mutiny stormed back after allowing a 67th-minute goal by Ariel Graziani that made it 2-1. Devin Barclay, a second-half substitute, took a pass from John Maessner in the 88th minute and had a free run at goalkeeper Matt Jordan. Barclay pulled the trigger from 10 yards and easily scored to tie it.
There were several chances for the Mutiny to win, including a Jair breakaway in the 90th minute that was saved, and a shot and header by Mamadou Diallo in the first overtime that just missed.
Then came the winner. Rodriguez settled a corner kick 15 yards from goal after battling defender Steve Trittschuh. Rodriguez cranked a shot that deflected off Mutiny midfielder Ali Curtis' head and into the right corner of the goal.
"We just have to play harder than that," midfielder Steve Ralston said. "We can't allow three goals at home. We give up goals on two set pieces (corner kicks) and have a bad pass. We can't do that."
The bad pass resulted in Graziani's score. Trittschuh tried to clear a ball in the Mutiny half but Bobby Rhine stole the pass. Rhine passed left to Rodriguez, who took the ball near the end line before crossing to Graziani. Graziani buried the cross from point-blank range.
"I can't for the life of me understand why sometimes we can't pass from A to B," Van Der Beck said. "Sometimes it happens, I know that. But that was the difference. They capitalized on it, and we didn't."
The match was delayed 58 minutes by lightning and heavy rain. Once play started, the Mutiny took to a 1-0 lead just like it has done in eight previous games.
In the eighth minute, Ralston did all the work when he stole a pass in Dallas' defensive half and had 20 yards of open space to Jordan. Ralston sidestepped a late charging Lubos Kubik 10 yards from goal and angled a right-footed shot from 8 yards past Jordan.
It was Ralston's seventh goal this season and tied his career best.
Dallas equalized in the 25th minute on a perfectly placed header by Oscar Pareja. Chad Deering took a corner kick from the right side and crossed it 15 yards from goal.
Pareja was running from the goal, but managed to head it backward to the left corner. Mutiny keeper Adin Brown committed to his right and was out of the play. Mutiny midfielder Gus Kartes was on the left goal line, but couldn't react quickly enough to stop the ball.
CHICAGO 2, COLUMBUS 1: Eric Wynalda and Ante Razov had second-half goals to rally the host Fire. Chicago goalie Zach Thornton earned his MLS-leading 15th win as the Fire (15-6-4) moved 10 points ahead of second-place Columbus (11-7-6), and within two points of clinching the Central Division.
-- Information from Times wires was used in this report.