Maybe all the San Diego Sockers needed to get back on the right track was a look at the Blast -- or maybe they just needed the leadership of seven-year veteran Brian Quinn.
Yesterday at Cleveland's Richfield Coliseum, the Sockers won their second game in a row when Quinn scored the game-winner off an assist from Ben Collins with 39 seconds left to foil the Crunch, 7-6.
On Friday morning the defending MSL champion Sockers were 1-5. Now, after an 8-7 victory over the Blast Friday night that came with just three seconds left, and yesterday's win, the Sockers are suddenly 3-5 and things are looking up.
"Quinny can't go full tilt yet," said Sockers coach Ron Newman, "but his leadership under pressure makes a big difference for us on the field."
San Diego held a 6-5 lead over Cleveland in the fourth quarter when Rod Castro scored unassisted with 2:36 left, but George Fernandez tied it 44 seconds later with Zoran Karic assisting. Karic had two goals and two assists for Cleveland.
Fernandez, for one, isn't surprised by his former teammates' sudden revival.
"San Diego and Baltimore may start in the cellar," he said. "But don't let that surprise you. You know where they'll be at the finish, where they always are. On top."
The Crunch slipped to 3-3.
Paul Wright had two goals for San Diego, and Hector Marinaro had two goals and an assist for Cleveland. Marinaro has scored in all six Crunch games.
* TACOMA STILL FIRST: The Stars retained their lead in the MSL's Western Division last night, despite a 4-1 loss to Eastern Division leader Kansas City.
The Comets (6-1) have the best record in the league; the Stars (4-3) have the only winning record in the West.
* SIDEKICKS BOOTED: Preki, Thompson Usiyan and Godfrey Ingram scored two goals apiece yesterday afternoon to key a 6-3 St. Louis victory over Dallas.
St. Louis took a 2-0 lead on second-period goals by Preki and Ingram within 19 seconds, and Dallas never caught up.
Tatu, who scored five goals Friday when the Sidekicks came from two goals down in the last two minutes to beat St. Louis in overtime, 7-6, was held to one goal yesterday.
* STORM BOUND FOR EUROPE: The St. Louis Storm will play in an indoor tournament in Zurich, Switzerland, Jan. 1-2. The Storm will represent the MSL against five European teams: two from Switzerland and one each from Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Germany.
* WHAT COOPERATION? When the Blast asked U.S. National Team coach Bob Gansler if he would allow goalkeeper Tony Meola to play for it in the MSL, Gansler didn't say no, but he didn't say yes either. It was a strong "probably not." On one hand, it seems the new cooperation being talked about between the MSL and the U.S. Soccer Federation disappeared the first time someone put it to the test.
On the other hand, Gansler's team has a heavy schedule, too, and while he is the coach at the moment, USSF president Alan Rothenberg has let it be known Gansler faces re-evaluation. So Gansler wants his best players available at all times.