The St. Louis Storm suffered a major blow yesterday when it learned that All-Star goalkeeper Zoltan Toth will have to undergo double surgery today.
Toth will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee and then have surgery to remove a ruptured disk in his neck.
"It is a big loss," said St. Louis general manager Dan Counce. "It would be a problem to lose your No. 1 goalkeeper any year, but this season it is double trouble. The bigger goals [two feet wider, one foot higher] mean more wear and tear and with the large number of goals being scored, it is also a psychological adjustment for the keepers. Compound that with playing every game, with no relief . . ."
In other words, it could get ugly for 41-year-old Slobo Ilijevski, the Storm's only remaining keeper.
"Slobo did a wonderful job for us last year," said Counce. "And we believe he will come through again. But the bigger goals, with no relief could be a problem."
Toth injured his knee during practice last Wednesday and then further damaged it during St. Louis' 3-2 loss at Kansas City Sunday. The disc problem was diagnosed about two weeks ago. Toth is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks.
* CAST OFF: While St. Louis is about to learn what it is like to have but one keeper, the Blast should take a step toward getting its No. 1 keeper back. Scott Manning, who suffered a severe ligament strain in his left ankle, Oct. 22, is expected to have the cast removed tomorrow. An examination will follow and the Blast could have Manning back in action by Nov. 9.
* JUST LIKE HOOPS: In St. Louis newspaper headlines are referring to the goal explosion in the Major Soccer League as "NBA Soccer," but Blast midfielder Billy Ronson said he doesn't know what to think just yet.
"I know we're capable of scoring more than 13 goals in a game," he said last night. "But you look around and you see those 3-2 scores between Tacoma and Dallas and Kansas City and Cleveland and you know they've got firepower, too. It makes you wonder what's going on. It makes you wonder, did they play 60 minutes, or what?"