NPSL TEAMS AT A GLANCE

THE BALTIMORE SUN

AMERICAN DIVISION

Baltimore Spirit

Arena: Baltimore Arena (12,392)

Last season: 27-13 (first in division); lost to Harrisburg in first round of playoffs

Coach: Kenny Cooper (second year in NPSL, 27-13; 394-302 in 12 years with Blast of Major Soccer League)

Key players: Cris Vaccaro, goalkeeper of year with 23 wins and 11.22 points-against average; Goran Hunjak (141 points); Rusty Troy (116); Tim Wittman, Calvert Hall alumnus entering his 13th pro season; Dan O'Keefe, NPSL's all-time leading goal scorer with 311, acquired from St. Louis; Paul Wright, another &r; newcomer and the league's fastest player.

Outlook: The Spirit will have more speed, size and scoring punch with the acquisition of O'Keefe and Wright. Vaccaro, still effective at 35, heads the defense that ranked second in the NPSL in points-against. Rookie forwards Rob Ukrop and Tarik Walker figure to contribute.

Buffalo Blizzard

Arena: Memorial Auditorium (16,200), Buffalo, N.Y.

Last season: 23-17 (third in division); lost in first round of playoffs to Cleveland

Coach: Trevor Dawkins (fifth year in NPSL, 99-47, second season in Buffalo)

Key players: Brothers Rudy and Randy Pikuzinski combined for 271 points and 141 blocked shots last season; assistant coach/midfielder David Hoggan; Jamie Swanner, the league's all-time winningest goalie with 166 wins; high-scoring forward Paul Dougherty.

Outlook: The Blizzard, in its second NPSL season, again will rely on the strong play of Rudy Pikuzinski, who was fourth in the league with 165 points, and Swanner, five-time NPSL goalie of the year. Veteran defenders Kris Kelderman and Chris Szanto will roam the back line in front of Swanner. This is a well-balanced team with proven scorers.

Canton Invaders

Arena: Canton Civic Center (4,200), Canton, Ohio

Last season: 13-27 (seventh place in division)

Coach: Andy Smiles (first NPSL season)

Key players: Gino DiFlorio, third in league in scoring with 178 points; Kia, 10th with 136; defenders Denzil Antonio and Oscar ++ Pisano.

Outlook: After dominating the league in their first eight years, the Invaders slipped to seventh last season. In trying to rebuild, rookie coach Smiles has some quality talent in DiFlorio, Kia, Antonio and Pisano. The key for a turnaround may be newcomer P. J. Johns, a former MSL All-Star in Cleveland.

Cleveland Crunch

Arena: Cleveland State University Convocation Center (12,493), Solon, Ohio

Last season: 25-15 (second in division); lost to Kansas City in NPSL finals

Coach: Gary Hindley (career record, 28-21; second season in Cleveland, third in NPSL)

Key players: Hector Marinaro, league Most Valuable Player and scoring leader (248 points); Zoran Karic, No. 2 with 222 points; G Otto Orf; team captain and D George Fernandez; 10-year veteran Tim Tyma; midfielders Tommy Tanner and Andy Schmetzer.

Outlook: The Crunch has the strongest one-two punch in indoor soccer in Marinaro and Karic. They receive help from Nassim Olabi (114 points) and Mark Thomas (86). Cleveland has the same punch that enabled it to set a league record with 702 points. Schmetzer is back after missing most of last season with a knee injury. Last year, the Crunch took Kansas City to the fifth and final game in the championship series.

Dayton Dynamo

Arena: Dayton Convocation Center (4,700), Dayton, Ohio

Last season: 20-20 (fifth in division)

Coach: Terry Nicholl (career record, 57-40; second season in Dayton, fourth in NPSL)

Key players: M Tony Bono, top returning scorer; Brad Smith, Dennis Brose and Scott Cook, who each scored more than 100 points; G Carlos Pena.

Outlook: The Dynamo, which after five years in the league has yet to win a championship, lost out on the final playoff spot when it bowed to Harrisburg on the final weekend. The team is led by Bono, a three-time All-Star, and Smith, Cook and Brose. Pena returns after winning 20 games and posting a 13.71 points-against mark. D Vincent Beck blocked a team-high 80 shots.

Harrisburg Heat

Arena: State Farm Show Arena (7,600), Harrisburg, Pa.

Last season: 22-18 (fourth in division); lost in division finals to Cleveland

Coach: Jim Pollihan (career record, 46-34; second season)

Key players: Franklin McIntosh, NPSL career leader in points (592); goalies Joe Mallia and Brett Phillips; M Danny Kelly, 101 points; defenders Angelo Panzetta and Todd Smith.

Outlook: The Heat eliminated the Spirit in the opening round of the playoffs, prompting Baltimore coach Kenny Cooper to call Harrisburg "the best team we played." All the main players are back, including McIntosh, Kelly and Doug Miller (74 points). The defensive keys are the platooning goalies, Mallia and Phillips, the NPSL's Rookie of the Year.

NATIONAL DIVISION

Chicago Power

Arena: Rosemont (Ill.) Horizon (16,518)

Last year: 22-18 (third in division); lost in division semifinals to Kansas City

Coach: Pato Margetic (career record, 75-45; fourth season)

Key players: Player/coach Margetic, who led the team with 118 points, including 65 assists; M Teddy Kraft; M Michael Richardson; F Ken Snow.

Outlook: The main question is whether G Tony Pierce can adequately replace Mark Simpson, who retired. Pierce, an eight-year veteran, was 2-7 with Milwaukee last season. He is backed by Rob Marinaro, a former Clemson goalie and brother of 1992-93 league MVP Hector Marinaro of Cleveland.

Detroit Rockers

Arena: Cobo Arena (9,561), Detroit

Last season: 16-24 (sixth in American Division)

Coach: Brian Tinnion (career record, 56-59; fourth season)

Key players: Sean Bowers, first-team All-NPSL; assistant coach/player Andy Chapman, who missed eight games but still had 111 points; Bryan Finnerty, the only NPSL goalie to play in all 40 games last season; D Jay White, team captain.

Outlook: The Rockers were switched from the American to the National Division to give the league two six-team divisions after the Denver Thunder, the 13th team, folded. The Rockers, who won the championship in 1992, hope to rebound after missing the playoffs last season. They will count on Bowers, the first player in NPSL history to record 100 points and 100 blocks in one season. The Rockers will be without D Steve Boardman, who was traded by the Spirit to St. Louis and then to Detroit, but decided not to play at all if it couldn't be in Baltimore.

Kansas City Attack

Arena: Kemper Arena (15,800), Kansas City, Mo.

Last season: 26-14 (second in division); won NPSL championship

Coach: Zoran Savic (career record, 26-14; second season); 1992-93 NPSL Coach of the Year

Key players: Jon Parry, 161 points; Brian Haynes, 144; Kevin Koetters, 135; Saeed Bakhtiari, No. 2 all-time in the NPSL in blocks with 747; goalies Scoop Stanisic and Warren Westcoat.

Outlook: In its fourth NPSL season, Kansas City captured its first championship. The Attack has a balanced offense that returns three players (Parry, Haynes, Koetters) who placed among the top 11 in scoring. The key in the playoffs was the defensive work of Bakhtiari and Jim Schwab, who helped limit Cleveland's Hector Marinaro and Zoran Karic, the league's top scorers, to one goal in the deciding fifth game.

Milwaukee Wave

Arena: Bradley Center (17,500), Milwaukee

Last season: 17-23 (fifth in division)

Coach: Keith Tozer (career record, 161-106; second season in Milwaukee, eighth in NPSL)

Key players: Dan Donigan, who finished in the top 20 in scoring; Victor Nogueira, one of indoor soccer's top goalkeepers; D Matt Knowles; D Moe Suri; F Michael King.

Outlook: King was having a banner season in Baltimore when he injured a knee and underwent major surgery. The Spirit sent him to Milwaukee so he could be nearer his home in Chicago. He will join Donigan in supplying scoring power. In nine NPSL seasons, the Wave has never won a division or league title. The club has led the league in average attendance the past six years, last season with a 7,758 figure.

St. Louis Ambush

Arena: St. Louis Arena (17,984)

Last season: 19-21 (fourth in division); lost in division finals to Kansas City

Coach: Daryl Doran (career record, 12-12; first full season; took over in midseason last year)

Key players: David Doyle, who led the team in scoring (119 points) despite playing in 23 of 40 games; Kevin Hundelt, the team's No. 4 scorer (46 assists, 19 goals); player/coach Doran, 86 points.

Outlook: The Ambush showed slight improvement after Doran took over last year, going 12-12 after a 7-9 start. The offense will revolve around Doyle, Doran, Hundelt and Dale Ervine. A former MSL All-Star who scored 119 points for Wichita last season, Ervine was acquired during training camp. G Jeff Robben is solid.

Wichita Wings

Arena: Kansas Coliseum (9,681), Wichita, Kan.

Last season: 27-13 (first in division); lost in division semifinals to St. Louis

L Coach: Roy Turner (career record, 27-13; second NPSL season)

Key players: G Kris Peat, whose 10.36 points-against average was a league best; Kim Roentved, 1992-93 NPSL Defender of the Year; Tatu, one of the world's best indoor players; D Tom Soehn; Chico Borja, 103 points in 27 games.

Outlook: The Wings struck gold with the signing of Tatu, whose career is punctuated by scoring titles. The addition of Soehn also will help. Peat is trying to come back from a knee injury that kept him out of last season's playoffs. If he's up to par, the Wings again could have the NPSL's best defense (10.9 points a game last season).

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