Hernandez, who was a standout goalkeeper at East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University, gets the first chance Saturday.

"Yeah, it will definitely be the same feeling [as the playoff game in the summer] and there will be some nerves," Hernandez said. "But I'm going to give it my best, take each situation as it comes and hope we can pull off the win."


Chicago Soul at Blast

Site: 1st Mariner Arena

Time: 7:35 p.m.

Video: mislnation.com

Outlook: The Blast kicks off the 33rd consecutive year of professional indoor soccer in Baltimore with Major Indoor Soccer League newcomer Chicago Soul visiting on opening night. With 11 players returning from last year's team, the Blast has a wealth of experienced talent, led by Mike Lookingland, last year's MISL Defender of the Year, and goal-scoring threats Machel Millwood, Audeto Neto and Max Ferdinand. The only big question came in the summer when standout goalkeeper Sagu retired after eight seasons in Baltimore to pursue a coaching career in Dallas, leaving the goalkeeping duty to two newcomers with no indoor experience (Troy Hernandez and William Vanzela). Hernandez, who played outdoors in the USL Pro League, will get the nod in the opener and how well he holds up will go a long way in the outcome. Don't be fooled by the 'expansion team' tag that comes with the Soul, which has a number of experienced players, led by former Blast forward Carlos "Chile" Farias. Just signed by the Soul on Thursday, the two-time league Most Valuable Player bolsters a formidable offense that also includes Alex Megson and Matthew Stewart. Veteran goalie Jeff Richey is the glue in back for the visitors. The Blast needs to keep possession and consistently get forward with the ball in order for the Blast to keep pressure off Hernandez. Finishing off scoring opportunities will be a must for the home team with a high-scoring game a strong possibility. Blast rookie Marco Mangione (Calvert Hall/Towson University) makes his professional debut wearing the same No. 19 his father, Nick, sported when he was a standout with the team in the 1980s.

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