BLUES: Timbers' Dike adds to attack

FULLERTON -- The L.A. Blues battled from behind again Sunday -- twice, this time -- and picked up another point, but a bigger addition arrives Monday.

Blues head coach/general manager Charlie Naimo said after his team's 2-2 USL Pro draw with the Wilmington Hammerheads that third-year Portland Timbers forward Bright Dike is coming in on loan.

With former star Chivas USA forward Maykel Galindo in the fold, and looking to get over a sprained ankle before next weekend's trek east, the speedy Dike's arrival ought to provide untold attacking dimensions for the Blues, especially with Irving Garcia pulling strings in midfield.

Garcia, a former UC Irvine standout who spent 2010 with the New York Red Bulls, was the catalyst Sunday, breathing real life into a dull affair after coming on in the 60th minute and scoring a brilliant goal as L.A. (1-2-1) rallied from its first deficit.

Cheun-Yong Park also tallied, also a fine shot inside the left post, and nearly netted a stoppage-time winner as the Blues swapped out the direct style they started with -- and that drove them to a 2-1 comeback victory Friday over the Hammerheads (2-2-2) -- and pieced together some entertaining soccer for a crowd announced as 847 but probably half that.

“Game like today, it's good that we found a way not to lose here,” Naimo said. “That's a step in the right direction. Four points on the weekend is not terrible -- we'd like to have had six -- and we've got reinforcements coming. We've got players coming into the team now who have got experience scoring goals at higher levels than this. And we're going to get out captain-type figure in [Iranian defender Rahman] Rezaei when he gets here. We're only going to get better.”

Dike, 25, was a first-round pick by Columbus out of Notre Dame in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, but he signed with the Timbers -- then a second-division team -- when he didn't make the Crew roster. He scored 10 goals in 23 D2 Pro League games that year, also netted a U.S. Open Cup hat trick against PDL power Kitsap Pumas and was one of the first players Portland signed when it joined Major League Soccer last season.

Dike played in 11 games for all of 175 minutes last year, scoring one goal. He hasn't played for the Timbers' first team this season but has started all three MLS Reserve League games and has two goals.

Jack Avesyan (Hollywood/La CaƱada HS) netted both goals off the bench for Wilmington, knocking home the rebound after Blues goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh parried a shot by Chukwudi Chijindu (Fontana/Damien HS) in the 66th minute and heading home a corner kick from former Ventura County Fusion teammate Hagop Chirishian (Hollywood/A.G.B.U. Manoogian-Demirdjian School and Pasadena City College) in the 75th.

The second goal was made simple by atrocious marking at the near post. “Our defense on set plays was shocking,” Naimo said. “If we could just defend a set piece, we win the game.”

Garcia answered the first within two minutes, blasting a ball from just outside the area across the box and inside the left post. Park (Bethesda Christian University) netted the decisive goal in the 84th.

WORTH NOTING: Play of the game: Abedzadeh's scrambling save to push a sensational, off-balance volley by Bryce Taylor past the right post in the 73rd minute. ... Avesyan had a significant cheering section, all wearing jerseys with his name and No. 22 on them, and they displayed an Armenian flag. “All my family was out there, all my cousins, everyone I know,” Avesyan said. “This is my home, you know. This is what it's all about, the fans.” ... Naimo, on Garcia: “Irving always steps it up when we're down. I don't know what it is, and it might not be always, but from what I've seen since he's been with us, he plays at a different pace and level when we're behind.” ... Chijindu, who played last year for the Blues on loan from Chivas USA, departed with an ankle injury. ... The Blues have conceded the first goal in all four games. They play Friday at Dayton and Saturday at Pittsburgh. ... The Rochester Rhinos (4-0-0), which beat the Blues twice to open the season, have not yet given up a goal.



Titan Stadium, Cal State Fullerton

L.A. Blues 2, Wilmington Hammerheads 2

W -- Jack Avesyan 66

LA -- Irving Garcia (Ricky Waddell) 68

W -- Jack Avesyan (Hagop Chirishian) 75

LA -- Cheun-Yong Park (Bryan Burke) 84

L.A. Blues: Amir Abedzadeh; Erlys Garcia (Israel Sesay, 46), Cory Miller, Ebrima Jatta, Sun-Hyung Cho; Allan Russell (Irving Garcia, 62); Bryan Burke, Carlos Borja, Ricky Waddell (Ladislas Bushiri, 82), Brian Farber (Shay Spitz, 58); Matt Fondy (Cheun-Yong Park, 46). Unused subs: Chad Bond, Jose Miranda.

Wilmington Hammerheads: Alex Horwath; Troy Cole, Gareth Evans, Tyler Lassiter, Yahaya Musa; Mark Briggs, Paul Nicholson; Bryce Taylor, Daniel Roberts (Hagop Chirishian, 54), Andres Cuero (Jack Avesyan, 54); Andriy Budnyy (Chukwudi Chijindu, 56; Dylan Riley, 82). Unused subs: Manny Guzman, Tom Parratt.

Yellow cards: Briggs 40, Jatta 43, Cole 63, Evans 64, Park 64, Lassiter 77, Spitz 82, I. Garcia 88.

Referee: Reed Christy. Att.: 847.