FOR THE FIRST time since November 1989, the Blast has captured both the Major Soccer League's offensive and defensive Players of the Week award.
Billy Ronson earned offensive honors by scoring three goals, two of them game-winners in a 6-5 victory at Dallas and a 7-6 overtime win against St. Louis, and one assist.
Defender Bruce Savage was voted the defensive star for his efforts in holding the league's top two goal scorers, Dallas' Tatu and St. Louis' Preki, to a total of one point in overnight performances. Savage also had 12 blocked shots and was called for only two fouls total in the back-to-back efforts.
"My question is, what did I get this for?" said Ronson.
It might have seemed ordinary to Ronson, but he now has six game-winning goals, which leads the league.
"I thought the offensive award was given for scoring a lot of points," he said. "I only had three goals, but maybe because there were two game-winners. It's nice, but the nicest thing is we won both games."
Savage's situation, Ronson said, is different.
"He held the two top scorers in the league to one point -- and the one point Tatu scored, Bruce, obviously, wasn't even on the floor," Ronson said. "I know, because Bruce was all over Tatu all night. When Tatu took that ball down the boards and scored, I was the only one there, and I couldn't stop him."
Tatu had used a line change to sneak back on to the field, while Savage was off, to set up his scoring play.
"Tatu is very smart," said Ronson. "He looks for every advantage and both he and Preki know they aren't going to get any advantage when Bruce is on the floor."
* SOCKERS GOOD: During the past couple years, San Diego coach Ron Newman said he has been so depressed about his team's play, he has been forced to read the newspaper upside down, from last place.
But yesterday, Newman got to see the paper right-side up. His two-time defending champion Sockers are now in first place for the first time in the regular season since April 1988.
"I'm quite chirpy about it," Newman said last night. "It hasn't concerned me, but it makes me feel very good."
Newman said now that his team is in first, he is anxious to see how it responds.
"I can't wait to find out if we're going to settle down or keep the fervor we've been playing with. It's been quite impressive."
* SOCKER BAD: Sockers owner Ron Cady fined Branko Segota the maximum under the team's work rules yesterday.
The fine was not disclosed, but sources said it was into the four-figure range, though less than $5,000.
The fine was based on a percentage of Segota's contract, which pays him $102,000, $30,000 above the salary cap.
"It is quite a heavy fine and that's only right," said Newman, who added the contract was not affected by missing four practices. "The younger players need to be shown you can't do things like Branko did and get away with it."
Segota was fined for leaving the team without permission from Dec. 28 to Jan. 4, to go home to Yugoslavia to visit his girlfriend.
He returned last Friday after having missed four days of practice. He also returned ill, causing him to miss two games.
Yesterday, team doctors said Segota has a mild case of tonsillitis and could return to practice today.
"He was expectant rather than contrite," Newman said of Segota's attitude at yesterday's meeting. "He knew he was going to be fined and now he just wants to get on with being fit."