Nothing figured to be easy for the Sockers, because nothing ever is. Just give them a 3-1 series edge and a raucous sellout crowd and watch them send the series back to Baltimore, where everything would be going against them.
That was the way it went as this team won six indoor soccer championships in seven years going into a 1988-89 season that almost died before it had even started.
And that was the way it went Tuesday night, as the Blast took the series home with a 6-3 victory.
Alas, there are only two common denominators shared by the Sockers' teams, one being Coach Ron Newman and the other being the ability to cope with adversity.
Newman's role speaks for itself. He has won with whomever he has been given. He'll win with his and he'll win with yours.
Adversity, now that's something else. They don't win in spite of Newman, but they certainly win in spite of adversity.
They have won a championship after the commissioner took a win away while they were on an airplane. They have won a championship after the nucleus of the team was peddled to Las Vegas in a fire sale. They have won (twice) after being down three games to one.
And now, another year when they won a series after trailing 3-1, they were trying to come back from a bankruptcy action that again cost them key players.
Could they do this the easy way?
Could they do it in the super-charged environment on their home carpet on this Tuesday night?
Wouldn't that be just a little bit too comfortable?
The Blast was certainly not in a mood to turn the whole town over to the Orioles. These guys \o7 were\f7 the regular season champions, and Newman wasn't too far-fetched in saying the Sockers should have been the underdogs in this series.
Indeed, if the Sockers had momentum going for them, the Blast was reinforced by desperation. They needed the victory to go home to a whole new ballgame.
Whereas the crowd was there in anticipation of a celebration, there was the little matter of the game to play.
Naturally, it was not going to be easy.
Desperation was working rather well for the Blast, which came out like it was intent on scoring a first-round knockout. It was first to loose balls, passed sharply and took advantage of Socker sloppiness.
Near the end of the first half, with the score 2-2, the fans had been taken out of the game to such an extent that the cheerleader who doubles as public address announcer had to wake them up.
The Sockers' "set" offense was scoreless in that half.
The first goal, in fact, was a gift. It was as pretty a gift as you could imagine, but a gift nevertheless.
Scott Manning, the Blast goalkeeper, was scrambling for the ball with the Sockers' Brian Quinn to the right of the net when he did what the Blast had been doing all along. He got there first, and that was to be his undoing.
Manning kicked it away, but right toward Branko Segota. As a panicked Manning raced toward the net, Segota floated a header just beyond his finger tips into the goal.
After a goal like that, it seemed it just had to be the Sockers' night.
Are you kidding?
Another pretty goal, a back kick by Billy Ronson, gave the pesky Blast a 2-1 lead and the Sockers had to scrap back to tie it on a long goal by Zoran Karic after a long pass from Gus Mokalis.
All of that was in the first period, which took on the appearance of one of those high-scoring Charger affairs of the Air Coryell glory days.
In the second half, missed opportunities joined sloppiness and the Sockers found themselves down, 4-2, with 10:45 to play.
For \o7 these\f7 guys, this was an ideal situation. But not on this night.
A goal by Gus Mokalis narrowed the Blast lead to 4-3 with exactly eight minutes to play, but those were eight minutes in which desperation switched sides. Time grew shorter and shorter, and finally the Sockers went to a sixth attacker and Baltimore put the game away.
And so the Sockers will have to do it the hard way, which is their way.
Winning in Baltimore will be difficult, but they did it before. They did it in Game 2, and could well have done it in Game 1. Remember that one? A two-goal lead with less than a minute to play turned into an overtime loss.
And, of course, Baltimore also proved that the home team does not always win these affairs.
So that was the way it went when the Sockers had a chance to wrap this thing up and hang another banner in the rafters. They went in excited about the sellout crowd and the sellout crowd went in excited about the local heroes.
However, as it turned out, this was not a night for champagne. Instead, it was a night for crab cakes.
The Sockers may have a three-games-to-two advantage, but there is no place in the world they would rather not be Thursday than Baltimore. But that is where they are headed.