The Golden Bay Earthquakes used three first-half goals to hand Team America its most decisive loss of the season tonight in a North American Soccer League match at Spartan Stadium.
The 3-0 defeat, in front of a crowd of 10,266, ended Team America's four-game winning streak and dropped it to 7-5 with matches in Chicago and New York to play next.
Golden Bay improved to 7-2 and remained undefeated at home with a 6-0 mark. The Earthquakes also are 2-0 against Team America, a 1-0 victory in Washington on the books earlier.
Expensive player acquistions have turned Golden Bay into one of the league's most dangerous offensive teams. Steve Zungul, one of those additions, scored twice, his ninth and 10th goals of the season, and midfielder Leo Quellar got the other goal.
Quellar opened the scoring at the 11:30 mark by tapping in Zungul's rebound. Zungul, the Major Indoor Soccer League's all-time leading scorer, converted on a penalty at 30:46 after defender Jeff Durgan was whistled for the foul. Zungul scored again with four minutes left in the first half, heading Quellar's corner kick past goalie Paul Hammond.
Team America outshot the Earthquakes, 21-17, but Golden Bay was by far the more dangerous team. Hammond made eight saves while Bill Irwin made five, picking up his second straight shutout.
Team America has been criticized for its defensive style and has only nine goals during regulation this year. However, it attacked for much of the first half and earned two good scoring chances. Forward Tony Crescitelli volleyed a shot that Irwin saved and midfielder Perry Van Der Beck crossed a ball in front of the Earthquakes' net at the 23 minute mark, but both Crescitelli and teammate Hayden Knight kicked and missed.
Earlier in the day, Team America, seeking more creativity for its weak offense, returned goalkeeper Arnie Mausser to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in exchange for forward Hugo Perez.
The trade leaves Team America with Paul Hammond as its only goalkeeper. It was made with the understanding that Mausser and Perez would revert to their original teams in case of an injury to Hammond. Mausser will also tour with Team America after the regular season and Perez will return to play indoors with the Rowdies.
However, the trade apparently violates the North American Soccer League's player movement guidelines, and must be approved by the league. A Team America spokesman was confident the trade would "almost certainly" be approved.