The L.A. Blues no longer are in command in the USL Pro's National Division after a late defensive collapse cost them in a 4-2 defeat Saturday at Wilmington, their first road loss of the season.
The Blues (5-4-4) claimed just one point from a two-day, two-game trek to the Carolinas after winning just once in two home games last week against Harrisburg.
It leaves L.A. third in the National Division, eight points behind Rochester (8-4-3), which Sunday plays American Division leader Orlando City, and five behind second-place Harrisburg (7-4-3), which Saturday drilled Charlotte, 4-0. The Blues are winless in five games over nine days, including a U.S. Open Cup defeat Tuesday night against the Galaxy.
Cesar Rivera's third goal of the campaign, in the 23rd minute, answered Andriy Budnyy's strike in the first 30 seconds for the North Carolina-based Hammerheads (6-4-3), who sit fifth in the far tougher American Division.
Wilmington took charge with three goals in 16 minutes, with Chris Banks providing a lead in the 66th minute and then assisting Ivan Becerra's diving header in the 71st and Chris Murray's goal in the 81st.
Akeem Priestley added a late goal for the Blues, who hadn't previously surrendered more than two goals in any game -- and had conceded one or none in 13 of 16 matches, all competitions.