By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
By Frank Owen
The second goal by the Mutiny, 28 minutes into the first half, leaves the Afusionados silent -- for a few minutes. It is particularly devastating because Valderrama gets the assist, delivering a delicate through-ball to Jefferson Gottardi.
The highlights of the match (from an Afusionado standpoint) come in quick succession. Valderrama is tossed from the game for a hard tackle from behind on Henry Gutierrez.
"APibe concha tu madre!"
Then the Fusion actually scores a goal, a diving header by Serna. Shortly afterward, two of the Afusionados are escorted out of the stadium by Tampa Bay police for hurling beer at the linesman after what was deemed a particularly egregious call. "Every fucking time we go to Tampa Bay, at least two people get thrown out," Estevez says later. The Fusion loses, 2-1. In the ensuing weeks the team will split two more games with Tampa Bay.
The bus ride home goes no better than the Fusion's season. By 2:30 a.m., the 25 Afusionados are wandering the parking lot of a 7-Eleven somewhere near Fort Myers. The desecrated husk of a tire lies next to the bus, having blown out along the highway. A rangy, blond-haired guy from Fort Myers Travel Plaza is working a lug wrench.
It will be a long ride home.
But not as long as the Fusion's season.
Contact Paul Demko at his e-mail address: