Home edge is striking phenomenon Wave sets the standard for dominance as host

NPSL notebook

December 18, 1998|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

For years, in all the pro leagues, they've talked about how difficult it is to win on the road. In baseball, football, hockey and basketball, home teams win at about a .600 clip. In soccer, it's not just difficult to win on the road, in some cases it's nearly impossible.

Through games of last weekend, NPSL home teams had captured 50 of 73 contests, a .685 percentage. Good, yes, but not up to last year's league-wide standard of .696 (191-79).

Chief among the reasons for such a success rate is the Milwaukee Wave.

Not only is the Wave (7-0) spotless at home heading into tonight's game against Harrisburg, it hasn't lost at home in nearly two years -- since Dec. 31, 1996, when it was beaten by the Heat, 13-9.

That loss was Milwaukee's only one (in 20 games) at the Bradley Center all season. The season before, the Wave was 18-2 while finishing third in the Midwest Division. Tough to win on the road, hey, guys?

Before that, the records were 18-2, 14-6 and 15-5. This from a team that until last year didn't win its division, much less the league championship. Wave goalie Victor Nogueira has a 41-game victory streak in Milwaukee.

Around the league

With his game-winning goal in overtime, his sixth score of the game, Erik Rasmussen of the Wichita Wings has been named NPSL Player of the Week. With the 11-point burst in his team's 20-18 win over Detroit, Rasmussen, who turns 38 next Wednesday, raised his point total to 31 in just six games. Second in the voting was David Bascome of Harrisburg, who had 15 points in two games, including four goals and two assists against the Blast last Saturday.

Tonight's Blast-Philadelphia Kixx game is on HTS (7: 35), with Bruce Cunningham and Bobby McAvan at the mikes. It's ball night at Baltimore Arena for the first 3,000 kids 13 and under. Teams are averaging about 26 points a game to date, but on five occasions the losing team has been held to just two points. A shutout appears just around the corner. The fourth-round pick of the Wichita Wings in the amateur draft was Steve Wing of Kansas Newman. If he doesn't make the team, maybe he can be mascot.

Cleveland goalie Otto Orf has the right idea: After the Crunch was annihilated by the Wave in Milwaukee, 37-5, Orf reported: "We made fun of ourselves on the way home. We recognize it's only one loss, the same as a one-point heart-breaker."

Talk about snake-bit: Detroit had lost three in a row when it ran the gauntlet of three games in four nights last weekend. It dropped three more by a combined total of four points -- 14-13, 20-18 and 15-14. Despite hitting just 1 of 14 shots in a 15-11 loss at home to Montreal, Cleveland's Hector Marinaro maintains a five-point lead (62-57) over Ken Snow of St. Louis in the league scoring race. The Blast's Denison Cabral is 12th with 35 points.

Mike Henning, who was shipped off to Harrisburg just prior to the season to complete the deal for Danny Kelly, said: "The game against the Blast wasn't a must game, but there was a sense of urgency for us because we wanted to get back to .500 (5-5). Also, I think we owed them one for the 13-12 loss in Baltimore. I know I was wound up facing my old teammates." Henning had two goals and an assist.

Blast tonight

Opponent: Philadelphia Kixx

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7: 35

TV/Radio: HTS/WJFK (1300 AM)

Outlook: Philadelphia (6-4) will be looking to make amends for a 13-6 loss to the Blast at the Arena last month. Then, a hustling Blast defense held high-scoring Matt Knowles, Kevin Sloan, Don D'Ambra and Omid Namazi goal-less. The Kixx are only 1-4 on the road. The Blast has won three of six games at home and, this week, activated assistant coach Billy Ronson to bolster its front line.

Pub Date: 12/18/98

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