Fabián Shines as Strykers Lose 5-7 to Visiting Blast

by Lisa Schafer

Mexican’s three-point debut matched by Baltimore’s Moises Gonzalez

Ontario, Calif. — The Empire Strykers were handed a disappointing 5-7 defeat by the visiting Baltimore Blast on Friday evening. While Marco Fabián put in an impressive performance in his professional indoor debut, scoring once and adding two assists, Baltimore’s Moises Gonzalez matched the Mexican star’s attacking output to lead his side to victory.

The Blast had the first quality look of the opening quarter, Brandon Gomez tipping aside a hard Oumar Sylla drive. The Empire ‘keeper was left helpless shortly thereafter, as Juan Pereira put the visitors ahead 1-0 on an assist by Adriano Dos Santos. The lead wouldn’t stand for long, with Gerardo being credited for a goal when his ball into area was touched over the line by outstretched Blast forward Gonzalez.

The visitors from Maryland restored their advantage in the second quarter, Gonzalez making amends with a clever assist off the boards that was finished by Jamie Thomas. The Strykers would equalize yet again when Claude Bilal Dielna fired an absolute rocket into the upper ninety from long range, but Pereira put the Blast back ahead on a breakaway, tallying off a pinpoint helper from Gonzalez.

With Baltimore holding a 2-3 halftime lead, the away side added another after the break. Ricardinho Sobreira found Jairo Guevara and the midfielder did an excellent job of shielding the ball before turning and firing past Gomez for the Blast’s fourth. With that, the time had come for the crowd at Toyota Arena to witness history, as Fabián recorded the first goal and point of his MASL career on a power play, driving a low shot inside the left post on an assist by Gerardo Jurado.

Justin Stinson could have leveled the score for Empire, but his dangerous shot was tipped over by netminder Mike Zierhoffer. Baltimore nearly scored again before the end of the period, Pereira seeing his low shot bounce off the inside of the right post.

The Blast extended its lead to 3-6 in the game’s final quarter, Gonzalez and Patrick Thompson each finding the net courtesy of back-to-back bullets from near the top of the box. Former Empire attacker Jesus Pacheco then all but put the match out of reach, as he increased Baltimore’s advantage to four on a power play, Sylla bagging the assist.

The Strykers showed some impressive morale in the closing stages, pulling back two tallies that were both assisted by two-time FIFA World Cup veteran Fabián. First the 34-year-old sent the ball off the boards with his heel to set up Stefan Mijatovic, who found the net with an unstoppable first-time rocket. Then Empire’s star midfielder picked out Moustapha “Momo” Gueye to help cut his side’s deficit to 5-7.

It would be too little too late for the Southern Californians, as they fell to 1-3 on the season. The Strykers face a quick turnaround, as they hit the road for Sunday’s meeting with rival San Diego Sockers. The club’s next home game is on Thursday, December 28, against the Tacoma Stars. Tickets are available here.