The Buffalo Blizzard's road woes hit another major pothole here Sunday.
Playing without much visible spirit, enthusiasm or skill, the Blizzard got drubbed by the Toronto Shooting Stars, 20-5, in the expansion team's home opener before an announced matinee crowd of 3,780 at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Buffalo has started its season with three losses, the worst opening in its five National Professional Soccer League campaigns. Buffalo has never led and has not scored more than nine points in a game.
It was the first win for North Division rival Toronto (1-2), a club made up of outdoor players just learning the indoor game.
"I think it was one of those certain nights where everything we did was pretty bad and everything Toronto did was pretty good," said Buffalo coach Gary Hindley.
"I'm not sure there was one part of our game that even had a little bit of positiveness. It's hard to get a bright spot out of this. It was just not a good effort and it was not a good result. Everybody . . . had a hand in this."
Buffalo, which lost, 13-8, in Detroit Saturday night, was in the game for only about the first six or seven minutes. Starting with player-of-the-game Eddy Berdusco's three-pointer at 6:46, Toronto scored three goals worth eight points in one minute, two seconds.
By the end of the first quarter, the Shooting Stars -- who lived up to their nickname by bombarding Buffalo with 18 shots in the period -- had a 10-0 lead and were clearly outhustling and outplaying the Blizzard. By game's end, Toronto outshot Buffalo, 40-28.
"You've got to shoot in this game. You've got to hit things first time because if you don't shoot, you don't score," said Toronto coach Johan Aarnio.
Hindley said, "As good as they (Toronto) played, we were equally poor on the other side. And when that happens you end up at 20-5. . . . We certainly were not pleased with that. That's not the Buffalo Blizzard team we're going to see in the future. And I don't mean personnel-wise."
Buffalo forward Doug Miller's goal off a rebound brought the Blizzard back to 10-2 early in the second quarter. But Toronto sealed the issue on a 70-foot carpet-skimming three-pointer by Willy Giummarra at 11:27.
Hindley then lifted Dino Perri, who looked shaky on several goals, for John Howard. Peter Sarantopoulos' goal gave Toronto a 15-2 margin before Gino Rizi's three-pointer late in the third quarter concluded the Blizzard's scoring.
The Stars earlier were clobbered by St. Louis and defending champion Cleveland but Aarnio said he thought his team learned from the experience.
"We needed to learn from the best and if we're going to learn, we're going to have a fast course doing it from the best," Aarnio said.
"We're getting on board well with closing passing lanes and getting into the right angles so we can dispossess the other team of the ball."