The Orlando SeaWolves' second outing against the Baltimore Blast was a measuring stick -- a largely new roster playing together for about six weeks against the reigning three-time Major Arena Soccer League champions.
Coach Tom Traxler described the Blast as "a Cadillac franchise of indoor soccer" coming into game week. In comparison, the SeaWolves right now are a Toyota Prius -- an efficient vehicle that gets up to speed then cruises, even when asked for a little bit more speed.
Saturday at the Silver Spurs Arena, the Blast (3-1) used its engine to patiently fly past the SeaWolves (0-2), and take a 4-1 victory as Juan Pereira scored twice for the champs.
Coach Tom Traxler said the difference in the second half was an inability to keep possession in their offensive half of the field, especially in the second half, after Baltimore assumed the lead.
"It hurt us all night long. We were possessing early, when we scored our goal. As the game progressed, we didn't, and created very few chances," he said. "We've shown we can defend in this league. We need to be better behind the yellow line. That will come with chemistry. We've had three games, they've had hundreds of games."
The SeaWolves get another chance to atone on Saturday in the last game of a three-game home stand to open the regular season against the Mississauga (Toronto) MetroStars at 7:05 p.m. It's Ugly Sweater Night (go crazy folks) as well as a Teddy Bear Toss night, where fans are encouraged to toss a teddy bear onto the field for the team to donate to families in need for the holiday season.
"We're going back to the drawing board, we want to win badly Saturday," Traxler said. "We'll have to be much better in the attack as Friday and as strong defensively."
Goalie Rainer Hauss made 16 saves in defeat Friday, on a night where that number and the four goals surrendered should be a recipe for an indoor soccer win.
"Baltimore will punish your little mistakes, it takes them just a second to find the space to get a scoring chance," he said. "I know four goals in an indoor game is not a lot, but in my mind it is a lot and I will work to get better."
Traxler called Hauss' effort "fantastic".
"Rainer had a great game, great saves in key moments," the coach said.
Seven minutes into the game, Luiz Mota took a line-to-line pass from Eduardo Cruz and buried a shot past Blast goalie Will Vanzela to give the SeaWolves their first lead of their short existence. Orlando had not scored first in their first two outings of the year.
But from there it was all Baltimore. The Blast owned the third quarter, posting a pair of goals to take a 3-1 lead into the final 15 minutes, and then added an insurance goal late in the fourth quarter on a penalty kick.
"Baltimore is experienced, they're three-time champs for a reason," Mota said. "We started strong, but their experience came out in the second half, we got punished. But a game like this will make us stronger."
Joshio Sandoval, a MASL veteran, send the team now knows its play on the offensive end has to be stronger.
"After seeing this two games, the opponents have scored on their chances," he said. "We're not finishing the opportunities we're given.