Chinapoo deal halted by old Sidekick who wants to see pal stay


Dallas defender Doc Lawson and Blast midfielder Richard Chinapoo could be about to find out that friendship sometimes ** can be a double-edged sword.

Lawson, evidently, will turn down a trade he wanted that would have brought him to the Blast, to prevent disrupting the life of Chinapoo, one of his closest friends.

"I don't think Dallas could give Richard what he wanted," Lawsotold the Dallas Morning News last night. "I've had some disappointments here, but I think I can tolerate the frustration and get through it and still contribute to this team."

Blast coach Kenny Cooper, whose team needs another ace to bolster its sagging defense, has yet to hear Lawson say "No."

"We talked three times [yesterday], the last just before their game with Wichita, and he never said he wasn't coming," jTC Cooper said. "He said it depended on whether Gordon [Dallas coach Gordon Jago] could work out an agreement with Richard."

Cooper, who will talk to Jago again today and did not consider the deal dead yet, said he understands about the friendship between the two players.

"Everyone has been very upfront in this," Cooper said. "Doc wanted to come here, until he heard who Gordon was asking for. He knows Richard wants to be here and he told me 'that could be a problem.' "

Jago met with Chinapoo after Saturday's game at the Arena, which the Blast won 9-6, and those talks supposedly were to continue today. Chinapoo did not accept telephone calls last night.

The Blast's 34-year-old midfielder spent the first five years of his career here, before joining Dallas for the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons.

When he returned to the Blast this season, he was joyful, with the thought he had returned "home" to finish his career. This season, in 35 games, he has 36 blocks and 17 goals, 15 assists, including one game-winning goal and three game-winning assists.

Chinapoo can not veto a trade, while Lawson can. A 13-year veteran and the last of the Major Soccer League's original signees, Jago made it clear Saturday he has earned the right to make the decision.

"If Doc thinks this would be good for his career, I'll not stand in his way and I'll wish him well," Jago said. "He's meant a great deal to this franchise. If he decides to stay, I'll be delighted."

Lawson has played irregularly in 30 games this season, producing 11 goals, nine assists.

"Doc's loyalty to his friend is admirable," said Cooper. "But for Doc and for Richard, this was an opportunity to extend their careers. If this trade doesn't happen, Doc will probably retire after this season, and Richard, I'll have to talk to Richard. Dallas wanted him and we still need a defender," he said, inferring that Chinapoo could one way or another find himself the odd man out.

Blast owner Ed Hale said last night that if this trade did not work, the Blast would continue its search.

Cooper added he has asked the team's No. 1 draft pick Kris Kelderman, a University of Virginia defenseman, if he can report to practice this week.

"Kris is meeting with his academic adviser [today]," Cooper said. "We think he can come in and contribute right away. But we're not looking at him as the defender we need. We still need a veteran defender. It is there for everyone to see."

The Blast is giving up six goals per game, 222 total this season. That's more than any other team in the MSL.

Cooper said he had hoped to find the defensive answers within the Blast's roster, but the loss of defender Angelo Panzetta (knee surgery) for the season put a definite crimp in the Blast's plans.

"There are only 16 games left," said Cooper, whose 18-18 team trails first-place Kansas City by two games heading into tonight's game at the Arena (7:05, WCAO-AM 600). "We've looked at our season, made our decision. Right now we're nothing more than a contender. We hope a strong defenseman can help us change that.

"I know a lot has been made of the fact that we want to win the division and a pennant. But No. 1, that's what we're paid to do. And No. 2, who wouldn't want it for the fans and the home-field advantage in the playoffs? That's the way it is here, and we're going to go for it, until it's proven we can't have it."

Exactly the way they're going after this trade.

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