Mike Stankovic's knee injury proved to be more serious than first believed, but don't count out the veteran Blast midfielder returning next season.
"I understand from talking to Dr. [Joseph] Ciotola that everything went well and obviously, that makes me very happy," said Stankovic, who suffered a complete tear of two ligaments in a collision with Wichita's Terry Rowe Saturday. "I will probably be back and give it another shot."
Yesterday, Ciotola surgically repaired the medial collateral ligament and then performed reconstructive surgery, using a patela tendon graft, on the anterior cruciate ligament.
"Even though it was major surgery and he will be out a minimum of six months, there is no reason why, if Mike wants to, he won't be able to play again," Ciotola said.
Stankovic, 35, said he is "ready to start exercising and therapy whenever they want me to," which will probably be next week.
In the meantime, the Blast is preparing to leave for a two-game road trip to Tacoma and St. Louis. And with a three-game losing streak in hand, the loss of Stankovic is not good news.
Still, coach Kenny Cooper hopes to minimize the veteran's absence by moving defender Doug Neely to midfield beginning Thursday night in Tacoma. Rookie Kris Kelderman will be given a regular starting shift in Neely's old defender spot.
When Stankovic can, he will assume increased assistant coaching responsibilities and Blast vice president Drew Forrester said he also anticipates Stankovic to continue to do clinics once he is healthy.
"He'll be with me on the sidelines and sometimes he'll be upstairs," Cooper said. "But just his presence means a lot to our players. I had a team meeting today and all the guys were upset about Mike. But we'll regroup and go on."
* ERVINE FLYING HIGH: Wichita's Dale Ervine, who continues to lead the league scoring race, is the only MSL player this season to score at least one point in every game. So far, Ervine has 21 goals and 17 assists in 13 games.
* THE KARIC CRUNCH: Cleveland forward Zoran Karic, who had three goals and one assist last weekend, including the game-winner against the Blast, is the MSL's Offensive Player of the Week. In 13 games Karic has 15 goals and 17 assists for 32 points, second only to Ervine in the scoring race.
* DEFENSIVE GEM: The Defensive Player of the Week award goes to Wichita goalkeeper Kris Peat, who made 11 saves in the Wings' 3-2 victory against Baltimore. The two goals Peat gave up ties the league low for goals allowed in a game this season. Peat leads all goalkeepers with nine victories.
* EX-BLAST FACTOR: Former Blast forward/defender Tim Wittman has scored at least one point in six of his last seven games with San Diego.
* EX-BLAST FLIP SIDE: Things aren't going nearly so well for former Blast midfielder Waad Hirmez. Hirmez played in his 300th career game Friday, but St. Louis lost, 7-4. When Hirmez left the Blast, Baltimore was 1-4 and Hirmez had three goals, three assists. With Friday's loss, the Storm is 1-4 since Hirmez came on board, and he has no goals and two assists. Career-wise, Hirmez has scored 170 goals and 101 assists for 271 points in those 300 games.
* HOT HOTLINE: The MSL's hotline with updated scores, highlights and schedules is on line, and that's good news for Blast fans, who can dial the number locally. To hear the latest MSL news, call (410) 347-7622.
* NEW YEAR TOURNEY: The St. Louis Storm leaves Saturday for the Zurich New Year's Indoor Soccer Tournament, that is sanctioned by FIFA. The Storm will join FC Zurich, Grasshopper Cup (Zurich), Brondby IF of Copenhagen, Spartak of Moscow and Slavia Prague in a two-day round-robin Jan. 1 and 2. The teams will play by FIFA's five-a-side rules.
* MSL-LANIA: When Wichita beat the Blast Saturday, it was only the fourth time the Wings had managed the feat in the Arena, bringing their all-time record here to 4-21 . . . Blast forward Rod Hirmez has a 10-game point-scoring streak.
Wichita's Kim Roentved, who has spent eight of his 12 years in the MSL with the Wings, needs to play in just six more games to become the all-time leader in games played. Doc Lawson, who retired from the Dallas Sidekicks at the end of last season, is the current leader with 478 games in 13 years.