The Chicago Riot nearly notched another win Saturday night, valiantly fighting back after falling in an early hole. Unfortunately, it was not enough, as the Riot ended up losing to the Baltimore Blast 18-17. This puts the Riot's record to 2-8 on the season. A silver lining would be the fact that the Riot scored a season-high 17 points against a Blast team that entered the game with a league leading points against average and features the defensive giants of Mike Lookingland and Pat Morris. Unfortunately there is no moral victory standings but it was a great game leading up to Chicago Soccer Heritage Night... follow me after the break for a quick recap of the action...
Anthony Maher got the scoring off on the right foot (or head, in this case), as he put away an early header for a 2-0 Chicago Riot advantage. Lucio Gonzaga fired back for the Baltimore Blast, to knot the early score at 2 apiece. The Riot would snatch the lead back, as Miodrag "Miki" Djerisilo played a ball of the boards and put away a nice blast for a 4-2 Baltimore advantage. This is where the Blast began to mount a run. Worteh Sampson took a 3 point shot for the Blast, and Ante Cop, resident goalkeeping hero for the Riot, made a great save, but could not secure the ball. As luck would have it, Lookingland would tap the ball in to push the Blast even with the Riot once again.
Anthony Maher then was called for a holding penalty, so the Blast were on a power play. The Riot nearly killed the PP, but with about 20 seconds left, the Blast pulled ahead 6-4 on a tally by Pat Healey. Carlos Garcia, Worteh Sampson, and Pat Healey all scored again in the 2nd quarter to push the Blast lead to 12-4 with an impressive 10-0 run. However, the Riot weren't going to take it, as Roberto Gallo tallied to close the gap to 12-6 in the 2nd quarter. The goal came on a restart, and actually took a deflection that Blast keeper Sagu had no chance on. Just as Chicago thought they might be gaining some ground, the Blast would strike once more before the half as Pat Healy netted another score to give the Blast a 14-6 lead.
It didn't take long for the Riot to answer in the 3rd quarter. Semir Mesanovic had a beautiful strike on a 3 point score off a restart just 27 seconds into the 3rd quarter to put the score at 14-9. Again, the ball deflected off a Blast player into the net. The Blast would answer with a Lucio Gonzaga goal, his second of the game, to push the lead back to 16-9. The third period would end with the Riot still looking at a big gap to make up.
Miki Djerisilo opened scoring for the Riot in the 4th with a nice strike to edge the score closer at 16-11. Giuliano Celenza tallied for the last time, when he converted a penalty kick to open the lead back up to 18-11 in favor of the Blast. All looked dark late in the 4th quarter until Anthony Maher put the team on his back. Maher scored at the 6:45 mark with a nice turn and shoot goal to close the gap to 18-13. He then set up Eric Lukin for another goal to put the score at 18-15 Blast. Finally, he had a nice assist to Sunny Naumoski to put the score at 18-17. I can't imagine how loud it would have been had the Odeum hosted the game last night. I can't imagine how loud it will get tonight if a battle breaks out again. Though the Riot tried again to create magic in the final minute, the only real scoring threat was intercepted by Blast keeper Sagu to ice the game.
The good news is the Riot have a chance to get right back at the Blast in their home park tonight. It's Chicago Soccer Heritage Night at the Odeum. Tweed already elaborated on this, and even more info can be found here on all the festivities. It's truly amazing to see all the famous legends that will be there. If you can't be there yourself, at least follow along on the Riot's website or the website for Major Indoor Soccer League. The tension between the Blast and the Riot has been rising up and tonight's name is going to have a very special atmosphere. Will you be there to cheer the Riot over the top?