Shuffled Valentine, Mitchell are dealt full house in Kansas City


To fully appreciate that the Carl Valentine-for-Dale Mitchell trade had an unusual twist, one only needs to know that Valentine is living in Mitchell's house in Kansas City, with Mitchell's family and his own.

"It's a full house," said Valentine, laughing as children provided the background noise. "It's me, two wives and four kids.

"We're all adapting. The quicker we can get our two families settled, the better it will be for Dale and me, because then we can just worry about our performances on the field."

They'll worry about their performances on the field tomorrow night when the Blast plays the Comets at the Kemper Arena. It'll be their first meeting since the summertime trade that brought Mitchell to the Blast for Valentine.

It was a business deal that involved best friends.

That's why Valentine, his wife, Gillian, and their two children are staying with Mitchell's wife, Diane, dnd their two children. Valentine and his family will move into a new home in Kansas City shortly, and Mitchell will move his family to Baltimore as soon as he can find a permanent residence.

In the meantime, the two families are supporting one another and pointing out the positives of each other's situation.

"We've talked to each other about what our former teams are like," said Valentine, who spent the last two seasons with the Blast. "But we already knew we were going to similar situations, to teams that are both capable of winning a championship."

Said Mitchell, "I just want to get this game over with. I think once this game is finished and the home opener is out of the way Saturday, I'll begin to settle down and fit in better. These have been some pretty rough days."

For Mitchell, whose family will be in the stands, the game will be filled with emotion.

"My daughter won't know who to root for," he said of Danielle, who's 6. "After 4 1/2 years with one team, there are a lot of good memories and it is going to seem strange.

"But I'm going to try to settle down and not do too much. That will be hard, because there is always a tendency, when you go back to a place like this, that you want to show them so much what they've let go. And yet, you've got to understand within yourself that you are going to be judged over the season as a whole, not by this one game."

Valentine also wants this game to be history.

"It's funny," he said. "Everyone else seems to know how you feel and how you're going to play. But there isn't a lot of animosity. Neither Dale nor myself asked to be traded, but it was a case in which both sides thought they could better their teams.

"I don't feel the Blast traded me because I was a bad player. They thought they needed something different and Dale is an excellent player. Maybe he can push them over the edge. Here, they think maybe I can help do that for the Comets."

Valentine has three goals in two games for the Comets, including the game-winner in the season opener against San Diego. Mitchell didn't score for the Blast in its loss to Wichita.

"I don't feel we have anything to prove," said Valentine. "We're both successful. But obviously early on, people tend to look at how our teams are doing and put that together with how each of us is playing. It's unfair, but we both realize that is exactly what tends to happen."

More than 8,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday's home opener . . . The Blast will have a new pre-game opening that must be a little complicated, because the team was called to the Arena this morning to practice it . . . Blast forward/defender Tim Wittman is eligible to play this weekend, because Major Soccer League commissioner Earl Foreman has delayed by a month the hearing on Wittman's $750 fine from last season.

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