9-1 Comets follow Blast lead right to top of division

MSL notebook

November 26, 1990|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

At the beginning of the 1986-87 season, the Blast rolled up a league-best seven straight victories before losing. Although that Major Soccer League record still stands, the Kansas City Comets are soaring to new heights when it comes to opening acts.

After a 1-1 start, Eastern Division-leading Kansas City has won eight straight. Following yesterday's 5-2 victory over Cleveland, the Comets are 9-1, and no other team has been that hot 10 games into the season.

"Kansas City has obviously learned from our history," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper, whose team spent nearly all of the last two regular seasons in first place in the Eastern Division. "A good start gives you a luxury [to fall back on] when injuries, travel, fatigue and back-to-back games come along.

"I think our two games against them [both Blast losses] have also contributed to Kansas City's start. I think they got a little self-belief from those two wins."

The Blast, in second place in the East, is three games behind the Comets. After starting the season 0-2, Baltimore is finally over .500 at 6-5.

"Kansas City measures itself against San Diego and Baltimore," Cooper said. "It's still early, nothing has been settled. I don't think what they've done or what Tacoma [7-4 after last night's 9-2 loss to St. Louis] has done is a fluke. But they've had great goalkeeping, and we're just getting our No. 1 goalkeeper back.

"I think Kansas City should enjoy where they are, because they've earned it and because we'll be coming along. They'll be looking over their shoulders before it's over."

The Blast has five days to prepare for Saturday's 7:35 p.m. home date with Cleveland. While most of the team is healthy, Bruce Savage (ankle) and Mark Mettrick (groin) will use the time to heal.

* K.C. HOT SPOTS: Kansas City is led by the hottest goalkeeping tandem in the league, Jim Gorsek (3.23 goals-against average) and Mike Dowler (4.8 GAA). On offense, Jan Goossens (24 points, including 14 assists) leads the attack.

The Comets also have been successful on 66.7 percent of their power-play attempts, tying Cleveland for best in the league.

* TEAM EFFORT: St. Louis has the league's top point man in Preki (37 points, 21 goals, 16 assists). Dallas has the No. 2 point scorer in Tatu (33 points, 16 goals, 17 assists). Meanwhile, the Tacoma Stars and the Blast can boast only of teamwork.

The Stars are leading the Western Division, but they have no dominating scorer. Only Kia is listed among the Top 15 in the league, and with 13 points he's in danger of dropping off the chart.

The Blast has the most scorers on the charts with five, but only Billy Ronson -- whose 17 assists brings his point total to 24 -- is in the top five.

Dale Mitchell (16 points), Mike Stankovic (16), Domenic Mobilio (15) and Tim Wittman (13) are all among the Top 15.

* GARBO SYNDROME: Following a course that would make Greta Garbo proud, Scott Manning just wants to be left alone.

Manning, who started and won both games in net for the Blast last week against Dallas (9-7) and St. Louis (6-5 in overtime), said yesterday he wants to stay in the background, "and let the stars on the team be the stars."

The two games were Manning's first since he suffered severely strained ankle ligaments Oct. 22. His season record is 2-1.

"Scott and I talked," said Cooper. "He's not totally comfortable in the bigger goals yet, but when the game was on the line against Dallas and St. Louis, he came up with the big saves."

Cooper did not want to rush Manning back into the lineup, but after getting clearance from Dr. Bill Neal to play him last Wednesday against Dallas, he decided "the quicker we get him in the flow of things, the better."

* THE MIGHTY QUINN: San Diego captain Brian Quinn, who has played in just five games this season since recovering from a groin injury, tied a Sockers record with five assists Friday as San Diego beat Cleveland, 9-5.

Those five points put him in a tie with Steve Zungul as San Diego's fourth all-time leading scorer with 254 points. He moved past Zungul last night with two goals and an assist in the Sockers' 8-2 win over Wichita. Branko Segota (502) is at the top of the points list, followed by Julie Veee (486) and Jean Willrich (357).

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