Brose is Spirit's nemesis in 24-15 loss to Rockers League's goal leader scores 5, adds 2 assists

March 22, 1997|By Janie Reilly | Janie Reilly,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

DETROIT -- Detroit forward Dennis Brose, the National Professional Soccer League's goal-scoring leader, shredded the

Spirit's defense last night as the Rockers pounded the visitors, 24-15, in an NPSL game before 4,896 at Joe Louis Arena.

Brose's five goals and two assists kept Detroit's playoff hopes alive. The Rockers (18-19) are fighting for the last National Conference playoff spot with Buffalo and Edmonton, and the Spirit (18-19) is playing for the luxury of a bye in the first round or at least home-field advantage.

With an 11-5 win over Philadelphia on Friday, Harrisburg took a three-game lead over the Spirit for the East Division title in the American Conference. Baltimore, which has lost five of its last seven, plays at Harrisburg tonight. Detroit, which had lost six of its previous nine, broke a three-game losing streak.

"We know every game is important to us," Brose said. "If we took care of business earlier in the year, we wouldn't be in this position.

"We knew we had to play a disciplined game," he added. "Baltimore knows they're in the playoffs, so they could afford to ,, just coast. I'm not saying they did, but this game was a lot more important to us."

Even with Detroit's Pato Margetic and 1996 Rookie of the Year Jason Willan out of the lineup, trying to mark Brose man-to-man proved futile for the Spirit. Baltimore defender Doug Neely, who is usually teamed with Lance Johnson, was paired with Ronald Simmons for much of the first half. Johnson teamed with Simmons' regular partner, Jason Dieter. In the second half, Simmons shadowed Bose instead of Neely, but to no avail.

Using a 1-3-1 offense with Brose as the lead attacker, Detroit took a 12-11 halftime lead after trailing 5-4 heading into the second quarter. Bose, who has a league-leading 97 goals, scored three of the Rockers' five first-half goals, including a short-handed effort, and he assisted on another. He scored twice in the fourth quarter, including on a power play.

Midfielder Bo Vuckovic led Baltimore with four two-point goals. Forward Branko Segota and Vuckovic scored twice in the first half -- with Vuckovic getting credit for a goal Detroit's Greg Muhr hit into his own net. Midfielder Shane Dougherty scored and assisted on Jimmy Glenn's goal.

(NPSL standings, 9C)

Spirit tonight

Opponent: Harrisburg Heat

Site: State Farm Show Arena, Harrisburg, Pa.

Time: 7: 05

Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WASA (1330 AM)

Outlook: The Spirit still has a chance to win the East Division title and the first-round playoff bye that goes with it. Current leader Harrisburg and the Spirit each has three games remaining. If they finish tied, the winner would be determined by the season rivalry (Harrisburg leads, 3-2) or, if that's tied, too, by points against each other this season; the Spirit would have to win by at least nine points tonight. The Spirit has won only two of 12 regular-season games in Harrisburg in its five-year history.

Pub Date: 3/22/97

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