Game Two of the MASL Eastern Conference Finals between the Baltimore Blast and the Missouri Comets was 60 minutes of intense soccer showcasing some of the best that indoor soccer has to offer. What happened at the end of the game will forever mar an otherwise spectacular game...and possibly cost one player his career.
The Comets went 20-0 this season with superior firepower and superstar play from their core players. The Blast were successful mainly due to their incredible defense. In tonight's game, Baltimore's strength won out.
Missouri held possession most of the night, but found it difficult to move the ball deep into Baltimore territory. When they did get shots off, they were forced to shoot wide or found two or three outstretched legs before they presented any danger to the Blast goal.
Kiel Williams got the only goal of the first period. Then both teams exploded with six total scores in the second. Mike Deasel, Lucas Roque and Tony Donatelli scored the first three. Alain Matingou stopped the Baltimore rally, going coast-to-coast with a beautiful shot that William Vanzela barely had time to react to. John Sosa scored a long-distance bomb with 1.7 seconds remaining the first half to close the Comets deficit to 4-3 at the break.
An early 3rd quarter goal from Dantas put Baltimore up by two goals, but Bryan Perez and Josh Gardener were able to claw back and tie it up midway through the period. However, Baltimore was able to notch the next three scores to make it 8-5 with 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
After pulling a sixth attacker on the field, the Comets' Gardner and Leo Gibson each scored a goal to get Missouri within one point. The Blast's defense stood tall and were able to break through the extra attacker after that and knock in two empty net goals.
All of the excitement and good will shown in the first 59 minutes of the game was wiped out in the final minute. John Sosa was shown a red card for foul language, igniting the crowd in a series of boos. Shortly after that, a frustrated Brian Harris also earned a red card for a vicious slide tackle.
Although both of those incidents on their own are terrible, neither holds a candle to the actions of Andre Braithwaite immediately following the game. While Baltimore defender Pat Healey was being congratulated by a Comets player, Braithwaite walked up to Healey, grabbed him by the back of the neck and headbutted him with enough force to cut his forehead wide open...a cut that would later require five stitches.
The Comets dealt swiftly with Braithwaite. A message sent through social media within two hours of the incident gave notice of his immediate release from the team. A strong message from a team that prides itself with having players of good character, on and off the field.