Goalkeeper Scoop Stanisic is still with the Blast today, but only because U.S. World Cup goalkeeper Tony Meola could not free himself of commitments in England in time to be here by Friday.
"It is real unfortunate the timing has not allowed this to work out," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper. "It would have been a major signing and giving the new cooperation between the Major Soccer League and the U.S. Soccer Federation, his coming here would have meant as much as what Shep Messing meant to this league in the first or second year of our existence."
Meola is currently with Watford of the First Division in England. He has played in two games, but his playing time there will be limited. He told both his agent and Cooper that he wanted to join the Blast, but then learned yesterday the paperwork and his legal commitments in England could not be settled for at least 10 days.
Other Blast options proved fruitless as well. Former MSL keeper David Brcic is unavailable because of family commitments; Bays goalkeeper Steve Powers faces three more weeks of recuperation after knee surgery; and Timo Liekoski, coach of the Canton team in the National Professional Soccer League, is unwilling to part with goalie Jamie Swanner.
The Blast, with games against San Diego and Wichita here Friday and Sunday, cannot wait.
"What we're left with is a great opportunity for Scoop," said Cooper. "He needs to seize the opportunity -- which he hasn't until now . . . I've met with Scoop. I've asked him for more leadership. We have no doubt he can do the job, but he hasn't taken a grip of the situation yet. He has to get to the next level and he knows the pressure is on. It will either help him or it won't. We're all pulling for him."
Stanisic is 2-2 with a 7.21 goals-against average. Cooper criticized him after last Saturday's 6-5 loss to Kansas City for not making the big save at the right time.