Now that the Harrisburg Heat has clinched the NPSL East Division title and a first-round bye, it appears likely the runner-up Spirit will meet the third-place Philadelphia Kixx in a playoff opener.
If so, the Spirit will have the home-field advantage and will entertain the Kixx on April 5, travel to Philadelphia on April 6 and, if necessary, return to Baltimore for a third game April 8.
A slight possibility exists that the Tampa Bay Terror, now in fourth place, could be the Spirit's opponent, however.
This weekend, the last of the regular season, Tampa Bay could tie Philadelphia in won-lost record and claim third under the head-to-head provision of the tie-breaker system. Dates of a Baltimore-Tampa Bay series also would be April 5, 6 and 8, with the Spirit having home-field advantage.
In the North Division, the Buffalo Blizzard, Detroit Rockers and Edmonton Drillers are staggering to the finish line, separated by no more than a half-game. None has even earned a playoff berth, much less the division title.
In the Midwest, all four teams have secured playoff spots, but the Milwaukee Wave and St. Louis Ambush are still fighting for the division title. The Kansas City Attack can finish anywhere from second to fourth, the Wichita Wings third or fourth.
Such is life in the NPSL, where only the Central Division's Cleveland Crunch (28-10), the league's winningest team, has waltzed.
If you haven't heard much thunder from Jimmy Glenn's foot, it's understandable. The Spirit forward has scored 15 of his 17 goals on the road, including at least one in each of the past five away games. He had a hat trick against Toronto.
Quote of the week
Philadelphia's Paul Kitson, recalling when he played for Watford in the English League and team owner Elton John would practice with the team: "He was like a fish out of water, absolutely useless. But another fellow he used to bring along who could play was Rod Stewart."
An amazing streak ended Sunday when Cleveland's Zoran Karic went scoreless in a loss to Buffalo. Karic had scored at least one point in an NPSL-record 159 straight games -- every game he had played in since Cleveland joined the league in 1992. The second-longest streak is 41 by Drago Dumbovic in 1989-90. At its awards banquet Monday night, the Spirit Fan Club saluted Jason Dieter (MVP), Bo Vuckovic (Offensive MVP), Doug Neely (Defensive MVP), Sasa Zoric (Rookie of the Year) and Ronnie Simmons (Unsung Hero).
Pub Date: 3/26/97