For Chinapoo, rejoining Blast is perfect finishing touch for career

October 12, 1990|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

Richard Chinapoo could have stayed in Dallas, but the defender with the shot that threatens the lives of opposing goalkeepers decided to "come home" to Baltimore.

"At my age, it is a question of how much time I have left on these legs. It's not many anymore," said Chinapoo, 33, who spent the first five years of his Major Soccer League career with the Blast. "It's a question of where you want to finish, where you want to hang up your shoes. This is where I started and this is where I want to finish. Baltimore has always been home, even when I was in Dallas."

He will be playing with the rest of the Blast in an exhibition game against the Cleveland Crunch tonight at the Charlotte Coliseum. The same teams play again tomorrow night in Greensboro. Blast coach Kenny Cooper is expected to make his final cut Sunday, with the season opener -- Oct. 20 in Wichita -- just around the corner.

Chinapoo, a native of Trinidad, has changed during the past two years. The sizzling shot is still the same, maybe even a little harder, judging by the way players are ducking in practice. But the man whose shot has been clocked at 79 miles per hour is also letting his emotions fly.

"I've learned to let the frustrations out," he said. "When I was here before, I kept them inside. I let them build in me.

"In Dallas, I learned to kick a few garbage cans -- and it felt good to do it. Some players take that kind of thing the wrong way, but in Dallas we left it in the locker room. I hope it will be that way here, too."

Certainly, Blast coach Kenny Cooper has allowed his frustrations to show from time to time. And a post-game tirade seems almost natural in a sport that moves as quickly as indoor soccer, where irritating moments come and go before there is time to react.

After two years in Dallas, Chinapoo returns to a veteran team known for its intensity. Cooper expects his players to produce from the first minute of the first game to the last minute of the last game.

Playing for Dallas is another story. The Sidekicks, the defending Western Division champions with a 31-21 record, are not known for loafing on the playing field, but their training methods have been questioned and their easy smiles outside the locker room after losses are, at the least, questioned.

"It was relaxed, in a way, in Dallas," Chinapoo said. "Practice was mostly eight-on-eight every day. But in the games it was a battle. Each team wanted to win, and yet most guys on that team were veterans, so if something funny happened, we'd have a good laugh about it.

"When the real games came around, we all wanted to win and we all gave it everything we had. But when it was over, it was over. No one brooded over it."

Cooper is not worried about Chinapoo, a seven-year veteran, fitting in. He knows exactly what he is getting. The last season the 6-foot-1 defender was here, 1987-88, he produced 14 goals, but the year before that he scored 40. He has been an MSL All-Star four times. In Dallas, he was a leader who produced offensively and defensively.

With the Blast, his long-range, high-powered shots are expected to work well on a line with fellow veteran Mike Stankovic, who also is dangerous from the outside. Both should make life tougher for opposing defenses.

"With the goals 30 percent larger," said Cooper, "Richard should be an even bigger threat."

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