San Diego Sockers midfielder Brian Quinn believes the
slumping Baltimore Blast needs Carl Valentine back from the Kansas City Comets.
St. Louis Storm coach Don Popovic thinks Baltimore needs injured Tim Wittman back in the lineup.
Blast midfielder Billy Ronson said yesterday, "We just need a win."
Ronson used to guarantee wins, but that was before Baltimore went into a late-season skid that includes nine losses in its past 10 games.
Now no one is promising anything, not from a squad that coach Kenny Cooper called yesterday "the unluckiest team I've ever been around."
Baltimore is 8-16 in one-goal games and 5-6 in overtime games and has blown leads in the final two minutes of regulation play in four of the six overtime setbacks.
Perhaps third-year forward Domenic Mobilio comes closest to summing up the problem.
"We tighten up at the end of games," said Mobilio, before the Blast (20-27) flew to Kansas City, Mo., for tonight's 8:35 encounter with the Kansas City Comets (24-23).
Even with all the injuries this season, there appears to be too muchtalent for the Blast to be seven games under .500. This team was a preseason pick to win the Major Soccer League Eastern Division.
Now that same team needs to win three of five remaining games to avoid posting the worst regular-season record in its 11-year history. (The 1987-88 team finished 25-31, the only time the team finished below .500).
Cooper said yesterday that he saw the Blast's luck start to go bad when speedy second-year midfielder Angelo Panzetta went down with a torn knee ligament Jan. 20 against the Wichita Wings.
The Blast was 16-13 when Panzetta was helped off the field. Without Panzetta, Baltimore is 4-14.
Without Wittman, who hasmissed 15 games the Blast is 3-12.
Cooper is being blamed by some for the Blast's problems, but owner Ed Hale is not one of them.
Hale said yesterday: "I'm not going to fire Kenny Cooper. I've been talking about next year with Kenny. Obviously it's not a situation we want to live with next year, and I'm sure we won't have to."
NOTES: Bernie Mullen said yesterday that he has put together the necessary finances to submit a formal application for an expansion franchise in the MSL. Mullen, former executive vice president of the Pittsburgh Pirates, heads a group of prospective owners for a Pittsburgh franchise. Buffalo is also seeking a franchise in the MSL for next season.
Opponent: Kansas City Comets
Site: Kemper Arena, Kansas City, Mo., 8:35
Radio: WCAO (600 AM)
TV: Channel 45
Outlook: This could be a preview of the MSL Eastern Division opening round best-of-3 playoffs. Kansas City will likely finish second, and third-place Baltimore is clinging to a 1 1/2 -game lead over Wichita. K.C. leads the series, 4-3.