This past weekend, Charlie Naimo's Los Angeles Blues were in need of some wins to stay in the chase for playoffs spots in USL PRO.
Who better to make this possible than Ivar van Dinteren's hapless Dayton Dutch Lions, a team currently contending with Antigua Barracuda, the Charlotte Eagles and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds for most futile club in the third division.
The silver lining for the boys from Bellbrook, Ohio: promotion/relegation in America is as common as pigs flying.
“We haven’t been challenged in a meaningful match for a while, so we might be a little rusty in the early stages against Dayton,” Naimo told Gunnar Berndt of LABluesProSoccer.com. “That said, we’ve been working to improve in key areas during the time off and the guys are really motivated to play a game now.
"For three weeks, we’ve been looking at the table without any chance of climbing. That has made everybody extremely hungry for a win.”
One of the (pun intended) bright spots for Los Angeles is a forward by the name of Bright Dike, on loan from the Portland Timbers. During the matches at Titan Stadium this weekend, Dike showed the few fans that did bother to show up why he is a class above the rest of the players on both sides.
It's a habit with a number of teams to loan players out to the lower divisions to give them matches under their belts, and Los Angeles have just happened to benefit from the loan, as Dike powered them to identical 1-0 victories over the Dutch Lions at Titan Stadium on the campus of California State University, Fullerton.
Not bad for a player whose parent club lost this Sunday to the Galaxy by the same scoreline. Ironic, isn't it? In the first game on Friday, Dike's 56th-minute run faked out the entire Dutch Lions opposition, allowing him to slip the ball inside the near post.
And in Sunday's contest, forward Matt Fondy created an opportunity in the 62nd minute for Dike to place a curled effort past Dayton goalkeeper Matt Williams.
Williams will thank his lucky stars he is not going to face anyone of that caliber for a while...unless they have Orlando City on their schedule. Then again, Dayton showed the few fans in attendance why they are now 0-7-5 on the year. Poor first touches, shoddy defending, squandering possession and lackluster shooting.
One can only wonder how long van Dinteren is going to be in charge before he is rightfully sacked for his efforts, or lack thereof.
As for the Blues, they have all the momentum they need going to their next road jaunt in less than two weeks' time.
On June 28, they face the Charlotte Eagles at Charlotte Christian Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET. On June 30, Los Angeles clash with the Wilmington Hammerheads at Legion Stadium in Wilmington, Del. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET.
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