Tonight, Tim Wittman will play on the Baltimore Arena soccer surface for the first time as a member of the San Diego Sockers.
But, the former Baltimore Blast star said, he would rather the Arena have a different configuration.
"I'd rather it be a boxing ring instead of a soccer field, and I'd be going against Blast management," Wittman said. "I have nothing against the players."
In 10 years with the team, Wittman played in more games (332than any other Blast player, scored more goals (168), and is second to Stan Stamenkovic in points (250 to 329).
The affiliation ended because of a major clash between owneEd Hale and Wittman at a team meeting last March.
"I knew I was giving up 10 years in Baltimore when I did it," saiWittman, who went to Calvert Hall before his 10 seasons with the Blast. "But there was no way I was going to sit there and let certain things be said about me."
Blast coach Kenny Cooper said he tried to prevent Hale and Wittman from clashing.
"I told Timmy he should apologize, but he wanted no part of it," Cooper said. "I'm saddened by the whole thing, but I couldn't patch it up even though I tried several times."
Wittman also had to leave behind his Baltimore hair-salobusiness and his fiancee, Cindy.
"I've always stuck up for what I thought was right in life and I'lcontinue to do it that way," Wittman said. "I'd go to jail for my friends and die for my family if I thought they were right. That way, I can always look at myself in the mirror. I can say I did it my way."
Wittman's way is good enough for San Diego coach RoNewman, who has won seven Major Soccer League titles and two North American Soccer League indoor championships.
Newman is using Wittman as a defensive midfielder, and likethe way he creates havoc as he moves around the field.
So Wittman, 28, appears to have a solid future, even if he nevewears the Blast uniform again.
"I know talent had nothing to do with me leaving Baltimore,Wittman said. "I really don't know how I'll feel playing at home against the Blast. It will be different and strange, but I think I can handle it."
His father, Jack, said yesterday that members of the Wittmafamily would be attending their first Blast game of the season tonight.
"I hope the pressure doesn't affect Tim," he said. "I think he's prenough to handle it. The ice was broken in San Diego when he played against the Blast [7-2 Sockers victory Sunday]."
NOTES: Waad Hirmez (sore right knee) is questionable for tonight's game after not practicing this week. A Magnetic Resonance Imaging test yesterday on his knee showed no structural damage. Hirmez said Thursday he might be headed )) back to San Diego in a trade after being at odds with Blast coach Kenny Cooper over conditioning and team strategy. . . . The Blast had hoped to sign Maryland Bays F Jean Harbor in time for tonight's game, but that move looked doubtful, yesterday even though the sides began talking again early last night.
Opponent: San Diego Sockers
Site: Baltimore Arena, 7:35
Radio: WCAO (600 AM)
Outlook: This is the Arena return of M Tim Wittman, a 10-season member of the Blast who now plays for the Sockers. San Diego routed the Blast, 7-2, Sunday in San Diego and has won 2 straight. The Blast, which has lost 2 straight, is led by F Domenic Mobilio (7 goals, 3 assists). M Brian Quinn (3, 3) tops the Sockers.