Record crowd can't root home Tropics to win as Blast take 4-2 triumph
LAKELAND, Fla. – Despite a franchise record crowd of 4,031, the Florida Tropics again couldn't get much going offensively in falling to the three time defending Major Arena Soccer League champion Baltimore Blast, 4-2, Saturday night at the RP Funding Center.
Baltimore took a 3-0 lead on two first-half goals from Ibrahima Keita and one from Sylla Salifou before Caio Ruiz banged in his sixth of the year to make it a 3 1 game at intermission.
Ricardo Diegues got a nice feed from Ruiz and headed in Florida's second goal six minutes into the fourth, but Mohamed N'diaye added an insurance marker three minutes later for the 4-2 final.
Baltimore assured itself at least a tie for first in the eastern division with the win, improving to 17-7, a half-game ahead of Utica City, who will close their season in Orlando next Friday. The two teams are set to meet in the first round of the Eastern Division playoffs, with game one Saturday, April 20, in Baltimore. Game two, and the tiebreaking 15-minute mini-game if necessary, will be Monday, April 22 in Utica.
A number of Tropics offensive stars, including Guilherme who is second on the team in goals with 16, did not dress for the home finale. He reinjured himself last week in a loss to Kansas City, his first game back in nearly two months from a knee injury suffered in January.
Florida, who fell to 6-17, will finish its third season in the MASL with a quick road trip to nearby Orlando to take on the rival SeaWolves Saturday, April 13, in a 7:05 start.
The Tropics SC, new members of the United Premier Soccer League, will host Clay County in Tropics outdoor home opener on Friday, April 12, at Lake Myrtle Sports Complex, with a roster that features many of the stars of the MASL side including Diegues, Victor Parreiras, Guilherme, Hugo Silva and Lucas Montelares. For more information, go to www.fltropics.com.