The Blast, trying to return to the Major Indoor Soccer League playoffs after missing out last season, opened training camp yesterday with 26 players on hand for the first workout. But, already the injury bug has struck.
Adauto Neto, the league's Most Valuable Player in 2005-06, will undergo surgery today for a fractured right foot suffered during a drill. The injury was first believed to be only a sprain after Neto made a cut on the floor, but X-rays revealed a break that is expected to sideline him for eight weeks.
The Brazilian forward, 26, missed all but two games of last season because of a fractured left shin, a recurring injury he had played through while helping the Blast to the league title the previous year.
Coach Danny Kelly said "no positions are secure," not even for the veterans present, including two of the highest-scoring forwards in the MISL, Guiliano Celenza and Denison Cabral.
Thirteen more players are expected before camp concludes with the season opener against the league-champion Philadelphia KiXX on Oct. 19 at 1st Mariner Arena. Among the missing were Machel Millwood and newly signed Scott Buete, who are involved in the United Soccer Leagues First Division playoffs with the Atlanta Silverbacks.
Kelly went to Brazil this summer and saw "some good players," four of whom have been invited to camp and are awaiting visas. "I'm anxious to get them here. It's a matter of how quickly they adjust to the indoor game."
On Saturday, the Blast hosts the KiXX and New Jersey Ironmen in a preseason tournament at Du Burns Arena. Tickets will be $5 at the door and good for all three games. Proceeds go to the Friends of Mike Woodard Fund.
"We'll make some decisions after that," Kelly said. "A lot of people will get to show what they can do."