When Domenic Mobilio gets dressed for tonight's game in Dallas, he'll put his left sock and left shoe on first. That's how he has done it since he joined the Blast, and if he thinks it brings his left foot a little luck, well, no one wants to argue.
Tonight, Mobilio needs just one goal to notch No. 100 of his Blast and Major Soccer League career.
A look through the record books shows a lot of players have scored 100 goals. Steve Zungul once scored 108 in one season (1980-81) with the New York Arrows. Few, however, have compiled 100 goals as quickly as Mobilio is about to.
And no one, not even Stan Stamenkovic, has been on the doorstep of 100 goals this quickly for the Blast.
This will be career game 114 for Mobilio. Stamenkovic, who joined the Blast as a seasoned veteran in 1983-84, needed 119 games to reach 100. Tim Wittman, who began his career here in 1981-82 playing primarily as a defender, needed 261 games.
Mobilio, who will turn 22 Jan. 14, is only slightly impressed by all this.
"The first two years, the goals kept coming," said the third-year player. "Now, it is going well again. The ball is going in for me. The touch is there. I'm not trying to kill it. My dad has told me from the time I started playing, 'Don't kill the ball.' So I just kind of use the side of my foot for a quick shot. It's a natural instinct. I think it is just a gift."
Getting the 100th goal in Dallas' Reunion Arena won't be easy. Not so much because the Sidekicks are playing uncommonly well -- they're not, having lost four straight -- but because Mobilio plays uncommonly ordinary in Dallas.
"I think I've scored one goal there in my whole career," Mobilio said. "I don't know what it is exactly, but I think it is an attitude. I don't shoot as much on the road. And in Dallas, I shoot even less. In Baltimore, I turn and shoot from all kinds of angles. In Dallas, I seem to wait for the perfect opportunity. I'm working to change that."
L Mobilio, as Blast coach Kenny Cooper has said, is a natural.
"We know if Dom gets the ball in the box, he'll finish," said assistant coach Jim Pollihan. "He's a finesse player, a great finisher and over the last two-plus years he has developed into a very composed player."
And this season he has added to his arsenal by taking more outside shots. He also has benefited from the advice of his father, Joe, who detected something Mobilio was starting to worry about.
"I had a tendency to let up a little after I scored my first goal in a game," Mobilio said. "Dad told me, 'Don't stop. Don't let up. Keep going after it.' And that's how I play now. I want more than one goal. You know you can never be complacent, because if you are the goals won't come.
"You've got to have the fire. You have to fight in this game to get the position you want on the floor. If you're satisfied or lack the desire, you might not want to fight to get that better position."
This season, he has 22 goals in 21 games. He has his eyes on another Blast record: Joe Finks' single-season mark of 51 goals in 1981-82.
"Last year I had a rough start and a slow finish, but managed 41 goals," he said. "I think, if I stay healthy, I can get 52 goals. People are expecting me to do more and more now, and I like that. I expect it of myself. I set goals every year. Last year, I wanted to be in the 40s, this year the 50s. There aren't many who have produced in that bracket."
No longer do opposing players wonder if he is for real, as some did during his first season when he scored 36 goals in 44 games. No longer do they think they can push the skinny kid from Vancouver off the ball, as some still were trying to do last season, when he scored 41 goals in 48 games.
Mobilio has added 10 pounds to his 6-foot frame to weigh in at 185. He also has added a mental toughness that he didn't have when he arrived as a homesick 18-year-old for the 1988-89 season.
"That first year, it was like being picked up and dropped on the East Coast," Mobilio recalled. "I talked so much about Vancouver, about being home, I made people sick -- and I was homesick. My mom spoiled me my whole life, doing everything for me. Here, I had to make new friends and find myself. I never felt comfortable off the field all season.
"It was better last year, but it wasn't until last summer that I found myself looking forward to coming back. This is my second home now. I'm comfortable, and it makes a difference. Instead of looking at the calendar and thinking there are four or five months until I can go home, I'm thinking there are four or five months until the playoffs."