Maybe its fitting that on the day the best Major Soccer League players arrived here for the All-Star Game one of the most successful goalkeepers in Blast and MSL history found work.
Scott Manning signed a 15-day deal with the Wichita Wings yesterday, ending a strange winter of inactivity on the MSL playing fields.
"You don't play in one city for 10 years and just pick up and play somewhere else without it feeling funny," said Manning, 34. "It's almost like rooting against the Orioles."
Wichita coach Roy Turner said Saturday night, after his starting goalie Kris Peat suffered a strained tendon in his left arm, that his first choice as a replacement was Manning.
PTC The two met yesterday morning and worked out the 15-day deal.
"I'm delighted to get a goalkeeper of Scott's caliber," said Turner. "I think we're as fortunate in that as we were unfortunate in losing Kris."
Peat is expected to be out three to four weeks. According to league rules, the Wings can sign Manning to two 15-day agreements. After that, they must sign him for the remainder of the season or not use him again this season.
Turner said the door is open for Manning to earn a spot for the season.
"He knows he has a chance to play for a [championship] ring," Turner said. "Right now, we need him for an extended period of time. At this point, nobody knows about Kris. And yes, it is possible that we could carry two keepers."
For Manning it is a career that has come full circle. He joined the Blast on a 30-day contract in 1982, and it turned into 10 years. Now, it is 15 days with the Wings. After that, who knows?
Manning begins his new job Friday in San Diego against the Sockers and will get a chance to play against the Blast twice before his contract is up. The Blast plays in Wichita Feb. 23, and the Wings come to the Baltimore Arena Feb. 27.
Last season, the Blast missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history and management cleaned house. Manning was not re-signed. He has spent this fall as an assistant coach at Loyola College and has returned to graduate school.
"Baltimore is my home and always will be," Manning said. "But I'm very happy to be able to help Wichita. It's a win-win situation for me and for them."
* NEW ALL-STARS: The East squad took on a more familiar look to Blast fans yesterday, when former Blast and now Dallas midfielder Richard Chinapoo and current Blast forward Rod Castro were added. They replace Dallas defenders Wes MacLeod (strained calf muscle) and Troy Snyder (deep shin bruise).
Chinapoo, who was not re-signed by the Blast this season, is having one of his best offensive seasons, with 20 goals and 10 assists. Castro, who joined the Blast from San Diego last summer, is the Blast's second-leading scorer, with 13 goals and 18 assists.
* ANOTHER CASUALTY: Wichita forward Dale Ervine is a late scratch from tomorrow's 8:05 All-Star Game at the Arena. Ervine practiced yesterday, but felt soreness in his knee afterward.
* LUCKY GAMBLE: Several MSL All-Stars, including Preki and Branko Segota, decided to take advantage of Baltimore's location and took a side trip to Atlantic City.
* CHARITY PAYDAY: Soccer Start, a national organization that helps economically disadvantaged children, will benefit from the MSL All-Star Game tomorrow. Leaf Inc. will donate $100 per goal scored to the program. A year ago, at the All-Star Game in Kansas City, Leaf donated $1,700 to the Special Olympics, as a result of the East's 9-8 victory.