After a 1-5 start, the Mutiny's strategy was to trade forward Roy Lassiter to D.C. United for veteran forward Roy Wegerle, use Wegerle's ball-handling and scoring skills for three games before he joins the U.S. national team, and end a nightmarish five weeks in which it has scored five goals in six games.
Nothing has seemed to work for the Mutiny. Lassiter scored his first goal Wednesday night for D.C. United. Meanwhile, the Mutiny was shut out Thursday for the fourth time in seven games, 1-0 by Columbus in front of a record-low crowd of 4,892 at Houlihan's Stadium.
"There's peaks and valleys in this game, and right now we're below water," midfielder Frankie Hejduk said. "The only way to go is up."
The loss was the Mutiny's third straight and fifth straight against Columbus.
The goal came in the 59th minute, when Columbus midfielder Todd Yeagley bounced a pass off Gilmar, got the rebound and bounced another pass off Frank Yallop. He then ran onto the ball and blasted a left-footer into the right corner of the net. It was Yeagley's first goal.
The goal came just minutes after starting sweeper Jan Eriksson was replaced by Yallop because of a bruised thigh.
"That was a substitution that maybe I didn't want to make," Mutiny coach John Kowalski said. "Frank Yallop comes in, and before he gets set on defense they have one or two passes and score. Other than that, whatever we did they did."
The Mutiny was held to six shots, only two of which were on goal. The Crew had four on goal, including a Robert Warzycha shot in the 46th minute that hit the post.
Tampa Bay had most of its chances in the first half. Hejduk had a golden opportunity in the 24th minute when Gilmar served a cross 5 yards from the goal mouth. Hejduk was open, but his header missed left.
Wegerle worked hard to create chances, but he was whistled for three offsides in the half. His best chance came in the 14th minute when Columbus goalkeeper Juergen Sommer denied him from 10 yards. Wegerle was bottled up in the second half and unable to get off a shot.
Defender Josh Keller received his second yellow card with five minutes left and will be unavailable for Sunday's match against the MetroStars.
"In the first 45 we played well and I thought we were the better team," Wegerle said. "Things seem at the moment that they're not going the way we like. But there's nothing we can do but try harder to turn it around."
NOTE: Major League Soccer confirmed that Bolivian national team forward Mauricio Ramos has been signed and will be allocated to the Mutiny. Ramos, 28, could be available for the May 10 game at New England. "We put a high premium this year on players that can control the tempo of the game," deputy commissioner Sunil Gulati said. "We expect (Ramos) to be one of those players."
To make room, the Mutiny placed forward Jacek Ziober on the injured-reserve list. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with tendinitis in his left ankle. Ziober was a designated marquee player. If a marquee player misses more than 10 games, a team is entitled to another foreign allocation. When Ziober returns, the Mutiny must release a foreign player. Yallop and Gilmar are the other foreign players.
Commissioner Doug Logan confirmed that Tampa is still in the running for MLS Cup '99. Logan doesn't expect a decision until the end of the season.