Cooper focuses on Blast's next four games

MSL notebook

November 19, 1990|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

After splitting two overtime games on the West Coast, the Blast is "real close to putting it all together," coach Kenny Cooper said last night.

"We've been getting it almost right, but not quite," Cooper said. "To me, the next four games are critical. I want to see us go on a roll, and we're almost there. We put it together for two or three periods, but we've got to do it for 60 minutes."

The four-game stretch starts Wednesday at home against Dallas. Then the Blast (4-5) travels to St. Louis on Friday, is at Cleveland on Nov. 30 and returns home to play Cleveland on Dec. 1.

Saturday night in Tacoma, the Blast rallied from a 4-1 deficit midway through the third period to tie the game. "Rusty Troy hit two tremendous shots with seconds to go, but their goalkeeper [Chris Vaccaro] made two great saves, and it went into overtime," Cooper said.

The Stars (6-3) won 5-4 on Nikki Ristic's shot 8:29 into overtime.

The Blast rallied from two goals down in its 5-4 overtime win in San Diego Thursday night.

"Hank Henry had two real solid performances in goal," Cooper said. Henry has a 2-2 record. No. 1 goalkeeper Scott Manning, who has been out with an ankle injury since Oct. 22, should start full practices with the team tomorrow, Cooper said.

Against Tacoma, Troy had one goal and one assist, and Tim Wittman, Richard Chinapoo and Mark Mettrick added single goals.

Two Blast scoring streaks came to an end -- Dale Mitchell's seven-game goal string and Billy Ronson's eight-game points skein.

* COMETS STAY HOT: Kansas City has streaked to a five-game winning streak -- including four straight on the road -- in compiling a 7-1 record, best in the Major Soccer League.

Defender Kim Roentved scored two goals and held MSL-leading scorer Tatu to two yesterday as the Comets downed Dallas, 6-4. It was the third loss in six home games for the Sidekicks (4-5).

Tatu scored his second goal on a sixth-attacker play with 1:30 to go, cutting the Comets' lead to 5-4. But with 19 seconds left, Kansas City defender Iain Fraser got a breakaway, and although Dallas sixth attacker Beto saved Fraser's shot, Sidekicks midfielder Pedro DeBrito inadvertently kicked the rebound into his own net. The goal was credited to Fraser, his second of the game.

Doug McLagen and Jan Goossens also scored for Kansas City.

* SHOOTOUTS SNOOZEOUTS: Shootouts were supposed to be exciting this season. With bigger targets, the scorers were supposed to blitz the goalkeepers.

So much for supposing.

Overall, MSL players are 2-for-10 in shootouts. Wichita's Dale Ervine has one and San Diego's Jim Gabarra, who scored on one against the Blast Thursday, has the other.

* OVERTIME BLITZ: Besides the Blast's overtime loss in Tacoma, MSL fans saw two others Saturday.

Wichita beat San Diego 6-5 on Terry Roe's overtime goal, and Cleveland beat St. Louis 6-5 on a shot by Greg Willin.

* ATTENDANCE DOWN: All around the league attendance has slipped by about 200 fans per game so far this season. MSL officials speculate the unseasonably warm weather is keeping fans outdoors.

Still, San Diego proved there is interest. After having the smallest crowd of the season, 4,490, Thursday night vs. the Blast, San Diego had a season-high crowd of 11,316 for Saturday's game against Wichita.

* NUMBERS, NUMBERS: Tatu's two goals kept him on top of the scoring race with 27 points. St. Louis' Preki is second with 25 and Ervine is third with 24 . . . On the goal-scoring side, Tatu and Cleveland's Hector Marinaro are tied for the lead with 16. The Blast's Dale Mitchell is tied for fourth with St. Louis' Thompson Usyian; both have 10.

The Blast's Billy Ronson still leads in assists with 15.

Goalkeeper Jim Gorsek, who shares duties with Mike Dowler in Kansas City, has taken over the top spot at his position. His 4-0 record and 3.23 goals-against-average is good enough to push Tacoma's Chris Vaccaro (5-3, 3.37 GAA) into second.

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