The Blast, of course, loves to get physical. With Mike Stankovic, Mark Mettrick, Rusty Troy and fiery Billy Ronson in the lineup, who wouldn't?
But the Major Soccer League made it official yesterday, during a conference call hookup with the Competition Committee, that a personal foul rule, officially called "persistent infringement," will be in effect when the season kicks off this weekend.
Only the vote of Blast coach Kenny Cooper prevented the passage of the rule from being unanimous.
During the just concluded preseason, the league experimented with a three-foul plan, but modified it to four fouls before passing it. A player who earns four fouls in a half will be given a two-minute penalty.
"We've sold a brand of soccer here that includes a high work rate, intensity and an aggressive style," Cooper said. "In a small arena like ours, that means soccer is still something of a contact sport. I'm in the minority, but I'm opposed to the foul rule, because it means players can now create a foul and I don't like it."
Cooper said the Blast is flexible enough to cope with the rule, but said he would not ask his players to play as if on eggshells.
* WITTMAN UPDATE: Blast general manager John Borozzi said last night the league and the team have come up with a plan that will enable the Blast to keep forward/defender Tim Wittman on the roster, despite the fact he is not technically "a player under contract," because he has not passed the required team physical.
Wittman has a degenerative disk problem that has been aggravated by a muscle pull just before the opening of training camp Sept. 25.
"It requires us to restructure the money and the wording of the contract," said Borozzi, who would not be specific. "Timmy has to accept the agreement, then the players union has to OK it. If it gets everyone's OK, it means Timmy will get some money up front. It means he'll have time to get healthy and pass the physical."
It also means if Wittman, for some reason, can not pass the physical, the Blast will not be held responsible for the rest of his contract.
"This is not a problem between Timmy and I," said Blast owner Ed Hale. "I'm not going to sign another player. We're keeping a roster spot for Timmy. It simply a matter of following league procedure to everyone's satisfaction."