If the Blast is going to make it into the MSL playoffs and beyond, it is going to have to do it without midfielder Billy Ronson.
This became apparent yesterday after surgery disclosed not only the cyst behind Ronson's right knee that had been anticipated but also a ruptured bicep tendon and a tear in the lateral meniscus cartilage.
Due to be out three to six weeks, Ronson probably would only play again this year if the Blast reached the championship series. The regular season ends April 4.
"We're very simply faced with a life-and-death situation," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper, referring to the team's playoff struggle.
The Blast is a game and a half behind Cleveland and Wichita, which are tied for the last playoff spot in the Major Soccer League.
"We've been making adjustments all season, and now I've got to find a way to strengthen us without weakening us defensively," Cooper said.
In an effort to do that before Thursday's game here against St. Louis, Cooper will move defenders Mark Mettrick and Doug Neely to midfield. Both have shown skill attacking from the back this season.
Since forward Jean Harbor is playing well, he and Domenic Mobilio will play as the team's target men. Rusty Troy shifts to defender, with rookie Kris Kelderman joining veterans Iain Fraser and David Eise, who will return from a bruised shoulder. Rod Castro, Kevin Sloan, Joe Koziol and Ali Kazemaini will remain at ++ midfield.
"If Billy's injury hadn't hurt his effectiveness all season and Mike Stankovic hadn't gotten hurt, we might not be in this position," Cooper said. "But this is where we are. We need to face reality and understand we need a miracle on Baltimore Street.
"I think moving Mark and Doug to midfield could help. They're excited about it, and it could vent some of the frustration the defenders have felt over a lack of scoring."
NOTES: Castro had his right hamstring X-rayed yesterday, and no damage was found. Fraser is to get his Magnetic Resonance Imaging results back on his left hamstring today. . . . Troy, who injured his foot Saturday, said it felt better yesterday and he decided not to have it X-rayed.