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Friday, July 6, 2012
L.A. BLUES: Dike hurt in loss to No. 1

By Scott French

FULLERTON -- An early goal and an injury to Bright Dike conspired Friday night to derail the L.A. Blues, who extended their losing streak to a franchise-worst four games despite a rather decent performance against the USL Pro's No. 1 team.

Orlando City SC claimed a 1-0 victory before a sparse crowd at Cal State Fullerton, knocking the Blues (5-7-2) down another peg in the standings -- to eighth -- with a rematch set for Sunday, also at Titan Stadium.

“I don't know what to say. I'm baffled ...,” said Blues head coach Charlie Naimo, whose team lost three in a row on a six-day Eastern swing that ended Tuesday. “As the game wore on, I thought we got better and better and better and just didn't produce a goal. In a tight game like this, there's not going to be a whole lot of chances.

“I was happy with the way we played. We're a good team, and [Orlando knows] it. That's two games in a row against the best team that we could've won both matches [the first, in May, was a 1-1 draw in Florida], and it wouldn't have been we got lucky. Tough shape now, man. We're in real tough shape.”

Center back Kieran Bernard headed home Anthony Pulis' corner kick in the second minute, and although the Lions (11-1-4) couldn't create a whole lot more offensively, that was enough -- especially once Dike was done.

The forward, who has six goals in 10 appearances since joining the Blues on loan from Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers, limped off with a hamstring injury just before halftime. It doesn't look to be a major ailment, but it will surely keep him out of the finale in the two-game set.

Dike had the Blues' best chance, muscling through Orlando's defense in the 28th minute for a sharp shot at the right post, but goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo made a fortunate stab to keep it out of the net.

“If we'd have played that well with Dike on the field in the second half, you've got to think he would generate three or four shots himself,” said Naimo, whose team managed just six shots, to Orlando City's eight. “So it definitely hurt us.”

Maykel Galindo, in an attacking midfield role in a new 4-2-3-1 alignment, had a decent opportunity from Bryan Burke's low feed into the box in the 60th minute, but Matt Fondy ran in front as Galindo fired, blocking the shot.

Said assistant coach Shayon Jalayer: “If we didn't have bad luck, we'd have no luck at all.”

Naimo said there were a “lot of things to be happy about” and that “if we could play like that every night, we'd be fine. ... That's an effort we gave after playing three games in six days, so we're tired and still we're able to defend them that well and still we're able to attack them. I've got to look at my guys and he happy with them right now.”

The Blues, who were in fifth place before their trek last week, dropped from seventh to eighth when Charlotte (5-8-2) upset second-place Charleston (10-5-0) on Friday. Only six clubs make the playoffs.

“There's 10 games left. We've just got to get in the playoffs. Gotta get in,” Naimo said. “We're too good a team not to be in the playoffs in this league.”

WORTH NOTING: Rodrigo Lopez, the former Chivas USA/Portland Timbers midfielder who signed Thursday with Orlando City after starring in the PDL this season for the Ventura County Fusion, made his Lions debut at the start of the second half, coming on for Adama Mbengue. ... Next week's games against Antigua Barracuda have been moved from the Caribbean island to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. ... Pali Blues (11-0-1), the Blues' sister club (atop the W-League's Western Conference standings), beat Colorado Rapids, 5-0, on Pepperdine sophomore Lynn Williams' hat trick in the opener of the doubleheader. “Too bad we couldn't have borrowed some goals from the girls,” quipped Naimo, who is also Pali's head coach. ... Sunday's doubleheader begins with Pali taking on Colorado Rush in the noon opener. U.S. women's national team star Abby Wambach, will be honored with a send-off -- she's headed to the London Olympics -- following the Pali match. USL PRO
Titan Stadium, Cal State Fullerton
L.A. Blues 0, Orlando City SC 1

OC -- Kieran Bernard (Anthony Pulis) 2

L.A. Blues: Amir Abedzadeh; Bryan Burke, Erlys Garcia, Corey Miller, Sun-Hyung Cho (George Davis IV, 69); Allan Russell (Irving Garcia, 79), Carlos Borja; Brian Farber (Israel Sesay, 71), Maykel Galindo, Cheun-Yung Park; Bright Dike (Matt Fondy, 42). Unused subs: Ebrima Jatta, Jose Miranda, Shay Spitz.

Orlando City SC: Miguel Gallardo; Jerome Mechack, Rob Valentino, Kieran Bernard, Luke Boden; Kevin Molino (Erik Ustruck, 87), Anthony Pulis, James O'Connor, Adama Mbengue (Rodrigo Lopez, 46); Jean Alexandre (Dennis Chin, 73), Matt Luzunaris (Ian Fuller, 62). Unused subs: Charlie Campbell, Kyle Davies, Sean Kelley.

Yellow cards: Galindo 20, Mechack 44, Russell 46, Chin 86.

Referee: Daniel Radford. Att.: c. 300.

Records: L.A. Blues 5-7-2, 17 points; Orlando City 11-1-4, 37 points.