Msl Preview

October 19, 1990|By Bill Free

Team-by-team preview

Eastern Division

Baltimore Blast

Last season: 32-20

Coach: Kenny Cooper, 11th season (287-197)*

Returning players: 13

Top newcomers: Dale Mitchell, Richard Chinapoo

Top returnees: Domenic Mobilio, Tim Wittman, Bruce Savage and Scott Manning.

Outlook: Baltimore once again is emphasizing a blend of youth and experience as it tries to overtake San Diego for the league championship. By acquiring Mitchell, the league's sixth-leading all-time scorer, coach Kenny Cooper hopes to have the impact player needed to put the team over the top.

Cleveland Crunch Last season: 20-32

Coach: Kai Haaskivi, second season (20-32)

Returning players: 11

Top newcomers: George Fernandez, Ali Kazemaini and Andy Schmetzer.

Top returnees: Haaskivi, Hector Marinaro, Michael King and P.J. Johns

Outlook: Haaskivi, the former Blast star, had a nightmare in his first season as the player-coach of the Crunch. The Crunch had numerous injuries and played one-on-one too much, but Haaskivi said he has shored up the defense and added a lot of scoring punch this season.

Wichita Wings

Last season: 26-26

Coach: Terry Nicholl, fourth season (61-68)

Returning players: 11

Top newcomers: Omar Gomez, Steve Pittman

Top returnees: Chico Borja, Dale Ervine, David Byrne

Outlook: The Wings have been plagued in the past by a lack of teamwork. Wichita acquired Byrne from the Blast last season, but he wasn't enough to help the Wings get past Kansas City in the playoffs.

Kansas City Comets

Last season: 30-22

Coach: Dave Clements, eighth season (204-194)

Returning players: 13

Top newcomers: Carl Valentine, Paul Peschisolido

Top returnees: Jan Goossens, Kim Roentved and Ted Eck.

Outlook: The trade with the Blast of Mitchell for Carl Valentine has left a big hole in the Comets' scoring offense. That's why many forecasters aren't picking the Comets to finish high in the Eastern Division race this season.

Western Division

San Diego Sockers Last season: 25-27

Coach: Ron Newman, eighth season (226-126)

Returning players: 12

Top newcomers: Alex Golovnia, Eddie Henderson

Top returnees: Branko Segota, Paul Wright, Wes Wade

Outlook: San Diego has been known to cruise through the regular season and then turn it on down the stretch into the playoffs. That strategy has worked for three straight MISL titles and six overall. But it has subjected Newman to a lot of criticism from the San Diego media during the regular season. Look for the Sockers to turn it up a notch in the regular season this year


St. Louis Storm

Last year: 24-28

Coach: Don Popovic, 10th season (212-115)

Returning players: 12

Top newcomers: Preki and Brian Schmetzer

Top returnees: Thompson Usiyan and Claudio De Oliveira.

Outlook: After an impressive season as an expansion team last year, St. Louis is looking to challenge for the Western championship this season. The Storm has added high-scoring Preki, and that is enough to make any team a threat.

Dallas Sidekicks

Last season: 31-21

Coach: Billy Phillips, third season (41-30)

Returning players: 14

Top newcomers: Marcello Carrera, Pedro DeBrito and Mike Uremovich

Top returnees: Tatu, Wes McLeod, Joe Papaleo

Outlook: The Sidekicks are always a threat as long as they have Tatu. But Dallas has had trouble getting past San Diego in the Western playoffs in recent years. Phillips is an energetic young coach who hopes that his team can duplicate its regular-season success last year and continue into the playoffs.

Tacoma Stars

Last season: 20-32

Coach: Keith Weller, second season (16-25)

Returning players: 8

Top newcomers: Gary Heale and Freddie Thompson.

Top returnees: Kia and Cris Vaccaro

Outlook: The Stars have the fewest returning players in the league and figure to struggle again this season. Losing Preki not only hurt the team's scoring ability, but it probably will hurt them in attendance.

*Overall seasons and regular-season records in MISL.

New rules

Four new rules will take effect in the 1990-91 MSL season:

1. The goals will be increased in width from 12 to 14 feet and in height from 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 feet.

2. Personal four-foul rule, known as persistent infringement penalty, will require a player to serve a 2-minute penalty after he incurs a fourth foul in a half and, thereafter, after further increments of four fouls in a half. Overtime will count as a new half. The opposing team will have a 2-minute power play while the player is serving the penalty.

3. The Federation Internationale de Football Association's dress code will be mandatory for all players, which means that they must wear shin guards and have their shirts tucked in their shorts and their socks pulled up.

4. On all free kicks, the defense will be 15 feet away from the ball. Last season, the defense was required to be 10 feet away from the ball on all free kicks.

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