Overtime victory puts Sockers where else but in MSL driver's seat


Was there ever any doubt?

The San Diego Sockers are only a game away from their fifth straight Major Soccer League championship after last night's 5-4 overtime victory over the Sidekicks in Dallas.

San Diego, which got two goals from former Blast player and Baltimore native Tim Wittman, leads the series 3-0 with Game 4 Friday night in Dallas.

Going into last night, the Sidekicks drew some hope from the fact they are the only team to ever come back from a 0-2 deficit, beating the Tacoma Stars in 1986-87 en route to the only league championship not won by San Diego in the Sockers' nine MSL seasons. Now, with the overtime loss after earlier 7-3 and 9-7 setbacks in San Diego, the odds are longer than ever. No MSL team has ever come back from 0-3.

* A TONGUE-LASHING: Dallas forward Tatu is famous for running up and down the field with his tongue out -- not unlike Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan. But it almost spelled disaster for the Sidekicks' star during Game 1 of these championship playoffs in San Diego. He ran into a San Diego defender and nearly bit off his tongue. He left the game, went to the locker room and received stitches. Afterward, he came back into the game.

"It hasn't seemed to affect his play," said Dallas spokesman Todd Paige before last night's game. "But it slowed down his conversation. He's just now starting to talk again."

* LONELY SIDEKICK: Dallas defender Mike Uremovich, who played with the Blast during the 1987-88 season, is the only experienced member of the Sidekicks who has not lost a playoff series to the San Diego Sockers.

And no one on the Kicks' roster has lost to the Sockers more than veteran forward Jan Goossens. The Goose not only has the bad fortune of losing to San Diego in the MSL during the 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988 playoff seasons, he was also a member of the Tampa Bay Rowdies in 1982 and 1984, when they lost to San Diego in the old North American Soccer League indoor playoffs.

While on the subject of Tampa Bay, Sidekicks forward Tatu and defender Wes McLeod also were on the 1982 team that lost the championship to the Sockers. Dallas coach Gordon Jago was the Rowdies' coach.

* TICKETS AVAILABLE: About 17,000 tickets have been sold for the U.S. Cup '92 game in Washington, between the U.S. National Team and Ireland, May 30. That means 3,000 are left for anyone who still wants to see the game and get their name on a priority list for 1994 World Cup tickets. To purchase tickets, call phone charge at 1-410-481-SEAT or call the World Cup Regional office at 202-544-6567.

* DALLAS GOLD: The city of Dallas will be in the money when World Cup 1994 gets here. Yesterday, the city was chosen as the international broadcast center. While each game will be produced live at the sites, they will be relayed to Dallas, where every foreign television station will be based, for satellite hook-up and broadcast back to individual countries.

The bottom line for Dallas is that from 3,000 to 4,000 television broadcasters and technicians will be living in the city's hotels for two to three months, putting many dollars in local business coffers.

* SCHOOL BOUND: Blast defender David Eise has told Blast management he is putting his soccer career on hold and going back to Indiana University to complete his degree. Eise signed with the Blast last summer, after playing the previous two seasons with the St. Louis Storm. Eise played in 27 games this season, producing two goals, three assists.

* MSL-LANIA: Blast forward Jean Harbor has signed with Tampa Bay of the American Professional Soccer League . . . St. Louis All-Star Preki is in England trying out for Tottenham Hotspur . . . Two representatives of Sheffield-Wednesday and their financial adviser will be in Dallas Friday, to study the benefits of MSL franchise ownership.

San Diego defender Kevin Crow continues to build on his indoor soccer record of having played in 109 consecutive playoff games, 103 of them in the MSL . . . San Diego goalkeeper Victor Nogueira needs one point to tie former Blast and now Dallas goalkeeper Scott Manning's playoff point scoring record at nine.

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