Wittman may not return this season

March 29, 1991|By Bill Free

Even on a day off, there was bad news for the Baltimore Blast.

Injured midfielder Tim Wittman said last night that he will be out at least two more games and possibly the remaining four games of the regular season.

Wittman tested his sore left knee yesterday in hopes of returning for tomorrow night's game against the Cleveland Crunch at the Baltimore Arena, but he said the knee allowed him to play only 50 to 60 percent of his capabilities.

"If I play at 60 percent, I'd be cheating myself and the team," said Wittman, who will miss his 10th game tonight (8:35 against the St. Louis Storm at the St. Louis Arena) since undergoing arthroscopic surgery March 4.

"I thought I could play through the pain, but it's not worth it," said Wittman. "When I come back, I want to play like Tim Wittman plays. I just don't want to survive out there. Also, I could get another injury by coming back too soon."

Wittman, whose presence in the lineup is needed by the slumping Blast, said his status is questionable for next weekend's final two regular-season games.

"I don't want to put a day on it," said Wittman. "I think we're going to make the playoffs, so it's important that I be completely ready to play then."

Wittman has missed 16 games this season with various injuries, and the team is 3-13 without him.

"We keep coming up one goal short, and you have to believe Tim Wittman might score that one goal we've been needing," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper yesterday. "He could give us a lift. I know that when he comes back, he'll be ready to play. He's been working out hard on his own and always stays fit."

Cooper watched Baltimore (20-28) lose its fourth straight game by one goal and 10th overall in the past 11 games Wednesday night, a 5-4 setback to the Kansas City Comets.

The Blast is 8-17 in one-goal games this season.

Cooper, who Tuesday called the Blast the "unluckiest team I've ever been around," said that Kansas City's fifth and winning goal looked as if it were guided by radar from about 110 feet out.

"Doug Neely [Comets defender whose open-net goal gave K.C. a 5-3 lead with 1 minute 20 seconds left] was just trying to clear the ball and he hit it with the inside of his foot," said Cooper. "That ball should go to the left and it did at first, but then it bent to the right and went right in the net. It was like a knuckleball guided by radar."

NOTES: Cooper took his team to an indoor soccer arena in St. Louis last night to eat pizza and watch the Wichita Wings play the Dallas Sidekicks on a satellite dish.

The Wings lost to Dallas last night and are 1 1/2 games behind the Blast in the battle for the final playoff spot in the MSL Eastern Division.

"I think it's good that the team stays together at a time like this," said Cooper. "Nobody is giving up and everybody's working hard. I'm not yelling at the players. I'm supporting and encouraging them."

Blast tonight

Opponent: St. Louis Storm

Site: St. Louis Arena, 8:35

Radio: WCAO (600 AM)

Outlook: St. Louis, a team that once dropped 10 straight games to the Blast, has won 3 in a row over Baltimore and can win the season series with a victory tonight. All 3 of those victories have been by 1 goal, with the latest coming last Sunday, 6-5, at the Baltimore Arena when MF Thompson Usiyan's winning goal with 32 seconds left deflected off F Rusty Troy into the net. St. Louis has clinched a tie for second place in the MSL West.

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