The Blast's playoff push is obviously getting serious. Just in time for tonight's game against Harrisburg at the Arena (7: 35), the team purchased forward Mark Thomas, top scorer for the East Division rival Florida Thundercats.
A member of the National Professional Soccer League champion Kansas City Attack in 1994, Thomas played in the Continental Indoor Soccer League for four seasons before joining the expansion Thundercats this season. He has racked up 30 goals and 17 assists for 75 points in 25 games this season and was Florida's representative in the NPSL All-Star Game earlier this month.
Sour taste for Edmonton
As though it was not bad enough the team was coming off an overtime loss two nights before losing to the Blast in overtime here last Friday, Edmonton coach Ross Ongaro and players Nikola Vignjevic, Martin Dugas and Alfredo Valente were treated for food poisoning in Florida.
Dugas was hardest hit, recalling, "I was laying on the ground in a rain puddle. I felt like I was going to lose consciousness." The only thing he ended up losing was a consecutive games streak of 104.
Marinaro, Karic return
After winning five of six games without the injured Hector Marinaro and Zoran Karic, Cleveland's high-scoring duo returned but the team lost in Harrisburg, 14-8. Prior to the victory, the Heat had not scored more than 10 points in nine straight games, but it had that many in the fourth quarter alone.
Speaking of scoring droughts, Philadelphia, 3-7 in its last 10 outings, lost its last two games -- in Milwaukee and Detroit -- by a combined 32-8.
Milwaukee on a roll
Over last weekend, Milwaukee scored the last 11 points in a 17-8 victory over the Blast on the road, then defeated Philadelphia, 11-4, and Harrisburg, 11-3, at home. That's a 33-7 edge over 10 quarters. Obviously, the NPSL's defending champs are back from their 4-9 slump.
As a result, the Wave's premier goalie, Victor Nogueira, took Player of the Week honors by maintaining an .814 save percentage through three games and holding foes scoreless over a 75-minute span. Goalkeepers have captured the award the last three weeks.
Buffalo's Bobby DiNunzio drew the assignment of guarding Cleveland's 6-foot-7, 265-pound blockbuster Shawn Boney and noted, "He's in the wrong sport. He should be playing in the NBA." DiNunzio, by the way, is 5-6 and 145. Philadelphia was losing, 21-0, in Detroit when it got the first of its two goals with just eight minutes remaining in the game. There has not been a shutout in the NPSL this season, although two different teams could muster just one point in 60 minutes of play. Part of the reason for the Kixx' sorry offense of late is that former Baltimore players Kevin Sloan and Omid Namazi are out with knee injuries. Pat Onstad has an arm reminiscent of Rocky Colavito in his heyday. The Edmonton goalie has scored a pair of goals this season by heaving the ball the length of the field into empty nets. The Milwaukee Wave won a "Best Single Event" award from Soccer Business International with "Brett Favre Night," which sold out the Bradley Center the past two seasons. What makes this show a huge winner for the team is that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel picks up the tab for the Green Bay quarterback's appearance. Question is, what happens when folks find out the Pack hasn't won the Super Bowl the last two seasons?
Billy Ronson of the Blast is on the injured list. The game-winning goal in the Blast's 19-18 victory in Montreal Jan. 29 was scored by Jason Dieter, not Doug Neely, as originally thought. The league says, "Errors like these occasionally happen in the fast-paced NPSL and are corrected without fanfare."
Opponent: Harrisburg Heat
Site: Baltimore Arena
Time: 7: 35
Radio: WJFK (1300 AM)
Outlook: The rivals are even in the East Division standings with 12-15 records and have split four games to date, three nail-biters and a blowout by the Heat. Harrisburg seemingly broke out of a scoring slump with a 14-8 victory over Cleveland but, two days later, was routed by Milwaukee, 11-3, in its last outing. Both teams have been off for a week.
Pub Date: 2/20/99