Wittman's All-Star numbers no ticket


Tim Wittman has been ringing up some All-Star numbers lately, but he won't be in Kansas City, Mo., Feb. 13 for the 12th Major Soccer League All-Star Game.

The Baltimore Blast midfielder wasn't selected by his peers in the MSL Eastern Division, and he wasn't added to the 16-man squad by Blast coach Kenny Cooper, head coach for the East.

Wittman has 10 goals and nine assists in the past nine games, a pace that has carried him to fourth place on the team in scoring.

Wittman (22 goals, 17 assists for 39 points) continued to make a strong statement Saturday night at the Baltimore Arena that he deserves to be an All-Star.

The 10-year veteran, 27, scored one goal and had two assists to help the Blast overcome the Cleveland Crunch, 6-5, before 7,244.

Richard Chinapoo led the Baltimore attack with his first hat trick since March 27, 1988, and defender Bruce Savage (five blocks and limited high-scoring Zoran Karic to one assist) and goalkeeper Scott Manning (14 saves) played major roles in the win.

The victory ended a two-game losing streak for the Blast (17-15) and moved it within a half-game of the first-place Kansas City Comets in the East. The Comets moved back to a one-game lead yesterday with a 6-4 victory over the Wichita Wings.

Cooper said Wittman has played a major role in the Blast's ongoing struggle to stay over .500 and is one of three Baltimore players who "were close" to making the All-Star team.

"I think Timmy, Mike Stankovic and Mark Mettrick have all played well enough to be All-Stars," said Cooper. "But you can only have five from one team."

The opposing Eastern Division players selected Savage, Manning and Dale Mitchell, and Cooper added the Blast's top two scorers, Billy Ronson (25 goals, 27 assists) and Domenic Mobilio (32 goals, 18 assists).

"I think Timmy was hurt by the fact he missed eight games [lower back injury and right hip pointer]," Cooper said. "That obviously hurt his stats, and they mean a lot at All-Star time."

Wittman, who has played in three MSL All-Star games, says he is having a better season than last, when the players chose him.

"I'm playing 40 percent better this season," said Wittman. "I'm able to do more things for the team because I have my stamina back. Last year my play was limited more to playing offense [career-best season with 40 goals and 15 assists]. Now I'm playing offense, defense, killing penalties and working on every aspect of the game. That's the kind of player I want to be."

Wittman said he could score 40 goals a season and make the All-Star team, but that wouldn't make him happy.

"I like to work hard and play hard to please myself," he said. "In the end, that's the only way to do it because you're never going to please everybody else."

Wittman, who plays every position but goalkeeper, said he wasn't surprised that his peers didn't select him.

"They're not sure which position I play, and they mostly go for the big stats," he said. "But I thought maybe I'd be chosen by Kenny for all I've done over 10 years. But you should never expect anything in this game."

Ronson, whose scrappy play is similar to Wittman's, said: "Timmy does things for the team other guys can't do. To be compared to Timmy is a compliment. He helped me settle down in America when I came here [from Blackpool, England] and I'll never forget it. If you need something, Timmy won't hesitate to give it to you. That's a side of Timmy very few people know."

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad