On the day Splash forward Dale Ervine found out he was the Continental Indoor Soccer League’s leading vote-getter for next week’s All-Star game, he discovered he was a man in exile.
Before the 9-6 loss to Mexico Wednesday, Splash Coach George Fernandez said trading Ervine would be in the team’s best interests.
“I can’t make everybody happy and I’m sure there’s a lot of Dale fans out there and they can judge me how they want,” Fernandez said. "[But] I feel we can win the championship with the guys we have.”
Against Mexico, in front of a franchise record 9,645 at The Pond, the Splash dropped into third place without Ervine, who leads the team in scoring (16 goals, 12 assists) despite not playing the past four games. The Splash (7-6) has lost three of those games; its record is the worst it has been since moving to Anaheim last year.
Mexico is 8-5 and moved into a virtual first-place Southern Division tie with San Diego (7-4).
It has been less than a week since Ervine, the top-scoring U.S.-born player in indoor history, was benched for the first time in his career. Without naming names, Fernandez had complained often about players trying to do too much and losing sight of their responsibilities. Finally, after threatening to take drastic action, Ervine and defender Paul McDonnell were benched. McDonnell returned to the lineup Wednesday.
“I can tell you that I have decided that Dale Ervine will not play for this soccer team,” Fernandez said in a statement.
Some players, like Doug Neely--the other Splash player named to the all-star team by the coaches--said Wednesday’s loss had nothing to do with Ervine’s absence.
“Tonight was a bad performance, period,” said Neely, whose second goal gave him 17 this season, one more than Ervine. “As individuals, we’re all not doing what it takes to win.”
Said Raffaele Ruotolo, who had two goals and two assists: “The effort is not showing in the results.”
Although the Splash may have tried hard, it was an uphill battle. The Splash went into halftime tied, 4-4--only the third time this season it has scored more than two goals in the first half.
“We made way too many mistakes,” Fernandez said, “but we’ve played these kinds of games before.”