Blast deflected in bid to break slump Baltimore skid at 1-9 after 6-5 loss to Storm

The knockout punches keep coming from all directions to the bewildered Baltimore Blast.

The St. Louis Storm got into the act yesterday at the BaltimorArena when Thompson Usiyan bounced a shot off Rusty Troy into the goal with 32 seconds left, giving the Storm a come-from-behind, 6-5 victory over the Blast.


Usiyan hit a line drive from 35 feet that glanced off Troy into thupper corner of the net, eluding goalkeeper Scott Manning and sending the Blast (20-27) to its ninth loss in the past 10 games.

Manning was playing mostly on emotion yesterday. His wifeCathy, underwent surgery for the removal of tumors Thursday.


Manning said: "I've told the Blast organization I'll try my best tconcentrate on playing, but obviously the game is secondary to my wife now. She's the one who gives me the strength to play, and now she's facing this."

Manning added: "Fortunately, right now it's in a pre-cancerousituation. But you never know if it's gone."

Manning said he first learned his wife had the tumors threweeks ago before a game against the Dallas Sidekicks at the Arena.

Manning was taken out of that game at halftime when he hatrouble concentrating.

Blast coach Kenny Cooper said he decided to start Manninyesterday after talking to Cathy Manning.

Troy said of the winning goal, "That sixth goal was my problem. Iit doesn't hit me, the ball goes right to Scott. If it had gone through my legs or anywhere around me, it isn't a goal."

It was the first win for the Storm at the Arena after six losses. IjTC was the Blast's 16th one-goal setback of the season and fourth straight at home.

Cooper said: "It appears we're not good enough. [Blast ownerEd Hale and I had a long talk this morning, and that's basically the conclusion we came to. It just seems like when we have chances to win a game, we don't get the job done, whether it be the veterans or the rookies."


But Cooper said he wanted to emphasize the word "appearsand hoped that the team could hold off the last-place Wichita Wings for the final playoff spot in the Major Soccer League Eastern Division.

Wichita (19-29) remained 1 1/2 games behind the third-place Blasyesterday. The Wings dropped a 10-8 decision to the Cleveland Crunch. Wichita has four games left, and the Blast has five.

Veteran Blast defender Mike Stankovic scored four goalyesterday and almost won the game single-handedly.

But Stankovic discovered once again that it matters little latelwhat any one player does for the Blast. The results always seem to be the same.

"It's tough to explain what's happening to us," said Stankovic"We create chances all the time and don't score. Nothing's going our way, and it makes me want to play all that much harder to help pull us out of this thing."

Baltimore looked as if it may be ready to break out of the slumin the third quarter when two Stankovic goals pushed the Blast ahead, 4-2.


But St. Louis scored two goals -- one off a free kick by DaryDoran and the other by Mark Frederickson-- in the final 47 seconds of that quarter to tie the game.

However, Stankovic struck again for a 5-4 Blast lead at 2:41 othe fourth quarter.

That set the stage for Greg Muhr to tie the game for the Storwith a goal with 4:37 left in the game, and for Usiyan to win it.