Nogueira, Roentved among best of century

Ex-Spirit standout Segota also joins `Stars of Century'

NPSL notes

February 12, 1999|By PHIL JACKMAN | PHIL JACKMAN,SUN STAFF

Present-day players Victor Nogueira, the Milwaukee goalie, and defender Kim Roentved of Wichita have been named to a "Stars of the Century" all-star squad conjured up by the Gannett News Service.

An ex-Baltimore Spirit player, Branko Segota, joins Tatu and Steve Zungul as the men up front, while defender Kevin Crow completes the first team. Oops, did someone say Stan Stamenkovic? Ron Newman (San Diego Sockers of the old Major Indoor Soccer League) was named top coach, which should make ex-Blaster Kenny Cooper very happy.

The Blast has got to figure out a way to get some consistency out of Khalil Azmi, since he is carrying the load in goal until Brett Phillips' broken finger heals. Brilliant for a stretch, as he was while capturing NPSL Player of the Week honors last week, Azmi still gives in to his wanderlust and leaves the goal uninhabited too often.

Somehow, the "Stay in School" message flashing on the scoreboard at the Baltimore Arena on Tuesday seemed a tad out of place considering 4,000 youngsters were sitting in the seats watching the Blast lose to Milwaukee in a mid-morning game. The league has six "School Day" games listed this season, the Blast being involved in another one in Philadelphia on Feb. 25. The next Blast game on HTS is against the Wichita Wings on Feb. 26.

Edmonton, which comes to town to play the Blast tomorrow night, recently had a 16-day layoff during which coach Ross Ongaro gave the players eight consecutive days off. "I didn't touch a soccer ball during that time," says defender Todd Rattee. "I worked out but it was nice to get away from the game and come back fresh." The Drillers came back with a 14-1 win over Detroit and an 11-10 win in St. Louis, building a solid two-game lead in the North Division.

The words of Harrisburg goalkeeper Doug Petras pretty well sums up the situation in the topsy-turvy East Division: "We're close to not making the playoffs, but we're this close to winning the division." The same goes for the Blast, the Philadelphia Kixx and the Florida Thundercats.

A couple of days ago, the Blast could have tied Florida for first place with a victory against Milwaukee. Such wasn't to be, though, and the club fell into a tie for the cellar with the Heat. In a division where no team is playing .500 ball and one game separates the four teams, the best of all possible worlds is to be unscheduled.

Cleveland superstars Hector Marinaro and Zoran Karic are still on the shelf with injuries, but the Crunch is 5-1 in their absence. Meanwhile, five players, Doug Miller (116 points), Ken Snow (113), Joe Reiniger (108), Erik Rasmussen (106) and Gino DiFlorio (100) have streaked by the pair who annually own the individual scoring race. Obviously, you don't want to get St. Louis mad when it's playing at home. After beating the Ambush, 11-10, on a Friday night at the Kiel Center, Edmonton came back to the same field Sunday and was routed, 28-10.

The indoor game is having its troubles catching on in South Florida. Despite a 9-2 home record and arriving in first place in the East Division, the Thundercats are averaging just 2,792 fans per game in the new National Car Center.

Blast tonight

Opponent: Montreal Impact

Site: Molson Centre, Montreal

Time: 7: 05

Radio: WJFK (1300 AM)

Outlook: The Blast (11-14), winners of three of its last four on the road, needs a victory to stay in the thick of things in the tight East Division. The same goes for the Impact (11-13), which is in danger of losing contact with second-place Cleveland in the Central Division. The Blast defeated the Impact in Montreal a week ago, the only time the teams have met this season. Blast forward Brad Smith has recovered from a knee injury and is expected to go full tilt for the first time in several weeks.

Pub Date: 2/12/99

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