Newman, who has directed Socker comebacks, says Blast can get off floor

March 20, 1991|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

The Blast is in trouble. That much is evident. That much Ron Newman and Kenny Cooper agree on.

"A couple of their boys weren't happy with the ball out there," said Newman, coach of the San Diego Sockers. "I could see it, and if I know one thing it is that it is very hard to fight through it.

"Their trouble now is confidence and Coops has a major job on his hands to turn it around."

Not surprisingly, Cooper, the Blast coach whose principal rival is Newman, sees it differently.

"I think the fact that we had been beaten badly by Wichita [9-2] Friday, were down 6-3 in the first half to San Diego Saturday and still fought back to have a chance to win shows we're a team that is sticking together and a team whose confidence is not the major problem."

There obviously is a problem, however, when a team loses seven of eight games, including back-to-back home setbacks to Wichita and defending champion San Diego.

"I do think the Blast is in trouble," said Newman. "But we were in the same kind of trouble last season, and once the playoffs started, look what we did. We're proof that the Blast can come out of it."

The Blast and the Sockers seem to be at opposite ends, just as they were a year ago at this time. Only then it was the Blast with the best record in the Major Soccer League and the Sockers who were headed for a 25-27 regular season and in danger of not making the playoffs. At present, San Diego is 29-16; the Blast 20-25.

The question is whether the Blast can lift its game in the postseason.

"If you don't have the down times, how are you going to enjoy the good times?" said Newman. "Everybody goes through the bad. We did for two years, but, yes, we won championships at the end, so we kind of cheated the system."

It was suggested that Newman's Sockers cheated the system by not giving it their best during the regular season. Newman scoffs at that, saying their best wasn't good enough until the playoffs, when they hit another gear.

He can relate to what Cooper is going through.

"He has gone with his best and gotten beat," Newman said. "When that happens there is a feeling that you have nowhere to go, nowhere to turn."

Said Cooper:

"It's the same stress I saw on Ron's face last year. He was disappointed and frustrated, but he found out it's a new season when you get to the playoffs. He is proof of what we can do."

As always, Cooper sees the glass as half-full.

"I'm enjoying coaching this team more than I have others in a long time," said Cooper, whose Blast has suffered from a defense that is allowing 6.1 goals a game. "It is challenging, though as yet unrewarding.

"The two previous years, we had everything going our way.

"This year, to me, is the ultimate challenge. And the bottom line is we've got to stick together."

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