If the horrid start to its showdown Saturday evening in North Carolina didn't doom the L.A. Blues, then certainly Maykel Galindo's red card took care of that. Nothing on this crucial East Coast swing is going their way.
The Blues dropped their second in a row after conceding twice in the first five minutes, falling to the Wilmington Hammerheads by a 4-2 count in a wild, sloppy, at times invigorating USL Pro affair that ought to have some bearing on the third-division league's playoff race.
Bright Dike scored for the fourth straight game for the Blues (5-5-2), who dropped from fifth to sixth in the standings and can fall to seventh with another loss Tuesday at Richmond.
Bryce Taylor scored from former Cal State Northridge standout Dylan Riley's feed after just 137 seconds, then fed Corey Hertzog two minutes later to give Wilmington a two-goal lead by the fifth minute.
L.A. twice crept within a goal, but the second strike -- from Bryan Burke in the 60th minute -- was costly. Galindo was caught in a scuffle in the net after the goal, and referee David McPhun produced the red card.
Hertzog, whose loan agreement from the New York Red Bulls was extended this week for the rest of the USL Pro season, scored his second 13 minutes later. Corey Miller hit the net in the 88th for the Blues, but it was waved off.
Dike, on loan from the Portland Timbers, scored his sixth in eight games with L.A. in the 25th.
Fourth-place Wilmington (6-5-4) pulls within three points of third-place Rochester (7-4-4), which lost to Harrisburg (5-4-4), which vaulted the Blues into fifth.
Legion Stadium (Wilmington, N.C.)
Wilmington Hammerheads 4, L.A. Blues 2
W -- Bryce Taylor (Dylan Riley) 3
W -- Corey Hertzog (Bryce Taylor) 5
LA -- Bright Dike (Matt Fondy) 25
W -- Andriy Budnyy 31
LA -- Bryan Burke (George Davis IV) 60
W -- Corey Hertzog (Bryce Taylor) 73
Wilmington Hammerheads: Alex Horwath; Dylan Riley, Gareth Evans, Tom Parratt (Manny Guzman, 68), Yahaya Musa; Bryce Taylor (Jack Avesyan, 90), Trey Cole, Paul Nicholson, Mark Briggs; Corey Hertzog (Luke Holmes, 90), Andriy Budnyy (Steven Perry, 70). Unused subs: Andres Cuero, Christian Davidson, Troy Hernandez.
L.A. Blues: Amir Abedzadeh; Erlys Garcia, Corey Miller, Ebrima Jatta (Bryan Burke, 46), Sun-Hyung Cho; Brian Farber (Israel Sesay, 46), Allan Russell, Irving Garcia (Maykel Galindo, 46), Carlos Borja (George Davis IV, 46); Bright Dike, Matt Fondy. Unused subs: Jose Miranda, Ricky Waddell.
Yellow cards: Miller 88, Perry 90. Red card: Galindo 60.
Referee: David McPhun. Att.: 5,146.
Records: Wilmington 6-5-4, 22 points; L.A. Blues 5-5-2, 17 points.