Warren Westcoat again has his job as the Kansas City Attack's starting goalie, but he's not sure how long he'll keep it.
A 1986 graduate of Severna Park High, Westcoat will open against the Heat tonight in Harrisburg and the Spirit tomorrow night at the Baltimore Arena primarily because Brett Phillips is in Brazil.
Phillips is the goalie who was signed by the Attack after Westcoat suffered a stress fracture of his arm in late November. Phillips was merely sensational, compiling a 9-0 record and a 6.47 points-against average and earning the National Professional Soccer League's Player of the Month Award for December.
It is due in large part to Phillips that the Attack has a team-record 12-game winning streak going into tonight's game and is atop the NPSL's National Division with a 15-3 record.
On Jan. 11, when the Attack signed Phillips for the rest of the season after two 15-day contracts, club president Don Kincaid brought out the superlatives.
"This is the most important signing in the history of our franchise," Kincaid said, noting that the team acquired Phillips in a trade before the season but couldn't persuade him to sign. "We have never had a more dominant player in any given position."
But Phillips was selected for the U.S. National Indoor Team, which is playing in the 5-A-Side World Indoor Soccer Tournament in Brazil.
That has opened the door again for Westcoat, at least temporarily. Last Saturday, in his first game since he was injured, Westcoat recorded a 16-6 victory over the Cincinnati Silverbacks.
Now, with three games in three nights, two on the road and the third Sunday at home against the St. Louis Ambush, coach Zoran Savic is putting off any decision on the goalie question until Phillips returns next week.
"A team needs two goalies to make it through a season," said Westcoat.
Backed up by Ken McDaniel, Westcoat started the first five games this season, then hyperextended his left elbow in practice. The diagnosis: A stress fracture. That was when the Attack finally enticed Phillips to sign.
"It was slow healing," Westcoat said. "It's about 90 percent now."
The Spirit's Kevin Sloan has played with Westcoat on the outdoor Baltimore Bays and against him in the NPSL. At 6 feet 3, 195 pounds, Westcoat is considered by Sloan as a "big, strong presence" in the goal.
"He's strong in all areas," Sloan said. "But if his arm isn't 100 percent . . ."
That might give the Spirit an edge, which it figures to need against a team on such a rampage.
(NPSL standings, 12D)
Opponent: Buffalo Blizzard
Site: Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, N.Y.
Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WASA (1330 AM)
Outlook: For the Spirit, this is the second of four games in seven days. The Spirit is 2-0 against Buffalo this season, including a 15-12 victory last week in Baltimore. Joe Mallia is expected to start in goal for the Spirit, with Cris Vaccaro opening tomorrow night against the Kansas City Attack. Barry Stitz (sprained ankle) is doubtful, Jamie Christie (hamstring) is questionable and Dave Vaudreuil (pulled stomach muscle) is out. Gino DiFlorio is Buffalo's scoring leader with 65 points.
Opponent: Delaware Wizards
Site: Du Burns Arena
Outlook: The Bays, who sit atop the USISL's Northern Division at 4-0, needed overtime to beat the Wizards, 8-7, when the teams met on Dec. 22. Baltimore has outscored its four opponents, 59-24. Bays goalie Matt St. Jean ranks second in the league in goals-against average at 4.33, and Billy Ronson leads the team in scoring with seven goals and 10 assists. Eric Riedlbauer, the Bays' leading scorer last year, and Joe Barger each have six goals and one assist.