Cooper cheerless over Blast's poor play


Baltimore Blast coach Kenny Cooper was out doing some Christmas shopping for his wife, Irene, yesterday.

But Cooper might seem more like Scrooge than Santa Claus this morning when he sends his players through a workout at Myers Pavilion in Brooklyn.

Cooper is miffed over the way the Blast lost to the San Diego Sockers, 5-4, Saturday night at the Baltimore Arena, and he threatened yesterday to "sit a veteran or two down" soon.

Cooper hates to lose any game, but a loss to the six-time Major Soccer League champion Sockers is even worse.

"I just think think we have guys who don't have the right mental [outlook] to beat San Diego when the game is on the line," said Cooper. "I'll be looking to change that. If I don't, then we'll make changes."

Cooper did not rule out a trade down the line if the Blast (10-9) doesn't soon stop "flirting with .500."

"My whole life is based around being No. 1," said Cooper. "That's what I live for. I believe we have some players who are willing to settle for No. 2 behind San Diego because they feel no one else has beaten them [in championship finals] either. That's not good enough for me."

Cooper said that mistakes by veteran defenders Mike Stankovic and Richard Chinapoo led to two goals for the Sockers.

"Mike took a bad penalty [holding in first quarter that led to a power-play goal for San Diego's Paul Dougherty], and it cost us," Cooper said. "And then in the third quarter, Richard turns his back and runs off the field before Angelo [Panzetta] could get on, and Richard's man [Paul Wright] breaks free for the goal that made it 5-2. When it was 4-2, I felt like we were going to come back and win it."

Cooper said Stankovic has a history of picking up bad penalties against San Diego, and it has hurt the team at times.

Stankovic was playing with a twisted left knee Saturday night and was told at halftime by Cooper "to take a shower and not even bother playing in the second half."

"He couldn't really go any more," said Cooper.

Stankovic didn't appear overjoyed by Cooper's decision, but he accepted it.

"A lot of players are upset," said Stankovic. "We didn't play well. I just couldn't play on the knee. I hurt it in Dallas [Thursday night]. I don't know if I'll be able to play Wednesday [against the Kansas City Comets]."

Of Chinapoo's mistake, Cooper said: "We've talked often this year about not doing that [leaving too soon on changeovers]. Richard felt that someone else should have picked up his man [Wright], but I see that as shifting the blame elsewhere."

Three of Baltimore's top four scorers -- Billy Ronson, Dale Mitchell and Stankovic -- didn't get a point in the loss to Sockers. Domenic Mobilio had one goal and one assist.

Dougherty had two goals, and Branko Segota had one goal and one assist to lead San Diego (10-10).

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