When Roy Wegerle joined the Mutiny last week, he chose jersey No. 77. The way Wegerle figured, seven was his lucky number, so by wearing 77 he thought he would double his luck.
But Wegerle found out Thursday night that the Mutiny is a team with no luck. It's going to take more than a number to snap this team out of its losing streak.
Tampa Bay is 1-6, losers of three straight. It has been outscored 16-5, and on three occasions has had six or fewer shots on goal. And those shots usually found a way to just miss or bang off the post.
"We need a little change of fortune," Wegerle said. "We just need to get a little rub of the green. You can't blame everything on luck, but we need a little slice of it."
The Mutiny tries to change its fortune today against the Metro-Stars. After losing its first three games, New York/New Jersey has won two, both on game-winners by defender Alexi Lalas.
The lack of success has the Mutiny frustrated. Passes are just off teammates' feet, opponents' shots somehow find the net. It's becoming Murphy's Law, whatever can go wrong will.
"We're getting unlucky bounces, we're missing chances," midfielder Steve Ralston said. "This is just something we've got to work through. At times we play really well and at times we play really poorly. We make critical mistakes and bury ourselves."
After Thursday's loss to Columbus, in which Todd Yeagley weaved through four defenders and scored the only goal, Mutiny goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli stared blankly from his locker. Ravelli, who has played club soccer for 22 years, can't remember going through anything like this.
"This is a different situation for me," Ravelli said. "I have never really experienced losing so many games before. In 1988 our (Swedish club) team was relegated (to second division), but at the same time I had the (Swedish) national team. I had one of the best seasons I've ever had that year. Everything was balanced. Now all I have is Tampa. It's pretty hard.
"But the only thing you can do is continue to work hard, be self-critical and make the best of the situation. Otherwise, the thing is kaput."
That has been the Mutiny's theme since the beginning of the season: continue to work, continue to create chances and eventually things will turn around. The question is when?
Wegerle is the newest solution. And Bolivian midfielder Mauricio Ramos may make an impact when he joins the team possibly by next Sunday in New England.
And if that doesn't work, expect more changes.
"Obviously this is not the kind of season we planned to have in the preseason," team president and general manager Nick Sakiewicz said. "I think it's very important for everyone to know that the front office is continuing to work with the coaching staff to make sure we find some solutions to this. We're not going to stop."
Until then the Mutiny will continue to tinker with its lineup until a solution is found. Against Columbus, midfielder Sam George played his first game since off-season abdominal surgery. He still is not in game shape, and it may be awhile before he can make an impact.
Defender Frank Yallop was benched against Columbus, and Jan Eriksson was used at sweeper. But Eriksson went down with a thigh bruise and may not be ready today. Frankie Hejduk, moved from defensive midfield to forward three games ago, moved back to his defensive midfield position against Columbus.
The hope is eventually the team will find a lineup that works.
"It's frustrating," Hejduk said. "We're a good team and we can't win."
Or it could be bad luck.
"I think the saying is good teams have luck," Ravelli said. "So I guess you can use the reverse for us right now."
MIAMI 3, COLORADO 2: David Vaudreuil, scoreless in his three-year career, had two second-half goals to lead the host Fusion. Dan Stebbins opened Miami's scoring by converting a Carlos Valderrama feed in the 41st minute.