Since the third time wasn't a charm against the Fresno Fuego, maybe the fourth time will be for the Nevada Wonders. Already having been outscored by Fresno 10-1 in three losses this season, Nevada has its final shot today when it kicks off at 5 p.m. at Fresno Pacific University in Fresno, Calif.
The Fuego (11-4) are now tied with the Orange County Blue Star for first place in the Southwest Division standings. They will be trying to bounce back from an unexpected 5-1 loss to Orange County last Sunday. Also, Fresno is in the midst of its first league losing streak of the season. Before last Sunday's loss, its most lopsided of the season, it also lost 2-1 to the Southern California Seahorses. Between those two games, however, the Fuego beat Utah 4-0 in the second round of the 2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. It will play a third-round game against the A-League's El Paso Patriots on July 16.
"Yeah, I don't know what to think about Fresno right now," said Nevada Wonders' General Manager Randy Roser. "They beat the Blitzz 4-0, then turn around and lose 5-1 to the Blue Star. We played them well the last time and outshot them 28-18. The players are confident. One thing they have gained these last few games is confidence. Losing three one-goal games to third division teams frustrates them. But they know they can play with anybody."
The Wonders did outshoot the Fuego in a 3-0 loss to them on June 1 in Carson City. But Nevada (1-11-1) has outshot most of its opponents since a 3-0 win over the BYU Cougars on May 30. Currently, the Wonders are coming off three consecutive one-goal losses to Pro Select League teams, including a 2-1 loss last Friday night to the Utah Blitzz in Carson City. Nevada led in that game 1-0, and actually had several chances to increase its lead in the first half, before allowing two second-half goals.
"There isn't any more of these 5-0, 6-0 scores. The guys want to get a win in the last five games of the season," Roser said. "They know what they got to do, they just got to do it now."
Nevada's defense and goalie, Hassan Shabazz, will have to contend with a potent scoring attack. Fresno's 39 goals this season ties it with the Cape Cod Crusaders as the PDL's second highest scoring team. Forward Edgardo Contreras-Salazar leads the PDL with 31 points on 13 goals and five assists.
Today's game is the first of three straight road games for Nevada, which will play its final five games against opponents fighting for playoff spots. The Wonders play two games next weekend in Southern California against Orange County and Southern California.
PDL Notes...No other team other than Fresno has held the top spot in the Southwest Division standings...Orange County defender Tony Lawson and Southern California's Jason Hotchkin both earned PDL Week 11 Team of the Week honors. Lawson was solid in the 5-1 win over Fresno and Hotchkin had two goals and two assists in a 4-2 win over the Pro Select League's San Diego Gauchos...Hotchkin now has 12 goals and seven assists this season and is tied with Fresno's Edgardo Contreras-Salazar for the most points in the PDL (31)...The California Gold of the PSL earned a key 3-1 win over the Utah Blitzz on Saturday, a day after Utah beat the Wonders 2-1...California forward Tony Bussard earned PSL Week 11 Player of the Week honors after scoring all three goals in the win...The Gold are now in first place in the Western Region and second place overall in the 13-team PSL.