Blast coach Kenny Cooper and goalkeeper Scott Manning say they will put the Chico Borja affair behind them. But fans of grudge matches might want to circle March 15 on the calendar, just in case.
That's the next time the Blast faces Wichita and Borja, and the game just happens to be at the Arena.
"We'll move forward from here," Cooper said yesterday after Major Soccer League commissioner Earl Foreman told the Blast he would not punish Borja, a forward with the Wings. The Blast had sent a letter to Foreman, charging that Borja intentionally tried to injure Manning in a Jan. 11 game. Manning suffered a sprained right knee that already has sidelined him for four games.
"You just hope the next time you play that this doesn't add fuel to the fire," Cooper said.
Manning, who is listed as doubtful for this Friday's game in Cleveland, said: "I had nothing to do with it; it's something the club pursued. But I don't think anyone should be surprised by the league's inaction. It's pretty consistent with the way things are done."
In a one-paragraph letter to the team, Foreman said he could not find conclusive evidence that showed Borja intentionally injured Manning.
"I told the commissioner that I'm disappointed," said Cooper, who blames three Blast injuries on Borja. "We don't complain unless we really feel it's legitimate."
Manning said he will test the knee in practice this week to see if he could play Friday.
Meanwhile, Manning's replacement, Hank Henry, was named the MSL's Defensive Player of the Week. He went 3-0 last week, with victories over Kansas City, Tacoma and Wichita, as the Blast (16-13) moved into a first-place tie with Kansas City in the Eastern Division. On Sunday against Wichita, Henry had 26 saves, a season-high for the team. He's now 6-3 on the season.
And Blast forward Dale Mitchell was named the league's Offensive Player of the Week. It marked the second time in three weeks that the Blast swept both categories in the voting by national soccer reporters.
Mitchell had three goals and five assists in the team's three victories last week. Mitchell ranks third on the team in total scoring with 23 goals and 19 assists for 42 points.