O'Keefe questionable vs. Crunch Spirit notebook

December 09, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

Just as he was recapturing his scoring touch, the Spirit's Dan O'Keefe was brought down by a knee injury.

O'Keefe, 32, the National Professional Soccer League's all-time leading goal scorer with 320, might miss his third straight game tomorrow night against the Cleveland Crunch at the Baltimore Arena.

In his first year with the Spirit, O'Keefe scored at least one goal in each of his first six games, including three Nov. 19 against the Harrisburg Heat, the game in which he sprained his right knee. He hasn't played since.

"The knee tightened up after that game and got worse every day for two weeks," O'Keefe said. "Finally, it's starting to get better."

Draft coming up

In a departure from the customary summer date, the NPSL draft will be conducted next Wednesday. A December draft day is expected to be permanent. The idea is to use some of the draftees this season, either on the regular roster or the developmental squad.

The league last week unanimously agreed to expand developmental squads from two to four players in keeping with its attempt to cultivate more American players. Pat Walsh and Ricky Bush are on the Spirit's developmental squad now.

Among the locals who will be available in the draft are Loyola fullback Billy Harte and Towson State goalie Rich Pelligrini. Jimmy Glenn, who scored 31 goals for Clemson, is expected to go in an early round.

Ukrop on the mend

Rob Ukrop, recuperating at his Richmond, Va., home from a broken jaw, has received more than 25 get-well cards, bearing 150 signatures, from Spirit Fan Club members. His jaw is wired shut, but the wire is scheduled to be replaced by rubber bands next week.

"I hope to be back in Baltimore right after Christmas and begin running soon after that," said Ukrop, a rookie who had six goals in his first five games. "The target date to begin playing again is Jan. 21, but I hope it'll be sooner. It'll depend a lot on when I get my fitness back."

Third best start

At 8-0, the Spirit is off to the third fastest start in the NPSL's 10-year history. The 1989-90 Canton Invaders bolted to a 13-0 start and the 1990-91 Invaders began 10-0.


The Cleveland-Baltimore game tomorrow night will match the NPSL's highest-scoring offense (Crunch, 18.4 points a game) and the stiffest defense (Spirit, 11.5). . . . Cleveland's Zoran Karic, the NPSL's points leader with 62 in eight games, was named Player of the Week after scoring 19 in two games, 15 against the Chicago Power. He has had at least one assist in a league-record 22 consecutive games. . . . Defender Eric Dade will be Nestor Aparicio's guest on "Spirit Talk" tonight from 7 to 8 on WWLG (1360 A.M.). . . . The Milwaukee Wave has dropped five straight after winning its first three. . . . The Spirit will conduct a banner contest (maximum size, 4 by 8 feet) Dec. 17 in these categories: 1) promoting Baltimore to an ESPN2 audience, 2) concerning NFL expansion decision, 3) centering on the Spirit, 4) focusing on a pro sports commissioner. A banner must be in good taste to be hung at the Arena during the game against the Detroit Rockers. The designer of the best banner will receive $500 and the category winners will receive $100 each.

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