Blast steps up attack with Rasmussen

Addition of ex-MISL MVP another big offensive move

June 11, 1999|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

When they talk about the great indoor soccer players who have popularized the sport since it came into vogue about two decades ago, invariably the name Erik Rasmussen comes up.

Yesterday Rasmussen signed a two-year contract to join the Blast. To say his road to Baltimore is a long one is hardly an understatement.

A perennial All-Star back in the days of the Major Indoor Soccer League and once a league scoring champ and Most Valuable Player, Rasmussen continued his mastery in the National Professional Soccer League in the early '90s before heading home to Denmark to coach and play.

He obviously felt he had some unfinished business in the States, however, and, two seasons ago, he signed with the Wichita Wings again. Some wondered how much the man who earned the nickname "The Wizard" had lost due to advancing age and being away from the indoor game.

The answer came quickly. Two years ago, Rasmussen, playing just half a season, scored 40 goals and 90 points in 22 games and made second-team All-NPSL. He was just getting started. This past season, he racked up 72 goals and 184 points in 34 games, was named to first-team all-league and finished second in the MVP voting behind Hector Marinaro of the league champion Cleveland Crunch.

With the Blast, Rasmussen, 38, and high-scoring Paul Wright, signed as a free agent a couple of weeks ago, will join the likes of Tarik Walker, Denison Cabral, Danny Kelly and Mark Thomas on the attack.

A juggernaut?

"For all his success playing indoors in this country, Erik is missing just one thing -- a championship," said Blast coach Kevin Healey. "He wants one, so he began looking around and came to the conclusion that we have a situation and the personnel here to take a run at it."

"That's why I'm excited about coming to Baltimore," said Rasmussen. "I think we'll have a good chance of becoming champions. I look at Baltimore and with the core of quality players we will have, it seems like a perfect situation to win. Also, I have family that lives in the area," added Rasmussen, whose brother resides in Annapolis. "It's a perfect fit."

"Thing about Erik is he understands the game so well, both as a player and as a coach," said Healey. "Not only that, he understands what he does well and what he doesn't do well."

What Rasmussen does and has done for years, in addition to scoring 890 points in 283 games, is distribute the ball as well as anyone.

"He was a couple of weeks late getting to Wichita last season because he was finishing up a coaching job in Denmark," said Healey. "Our deal, though, is that he'll be here in plenty of time for the start of the season. He wanted it that way, too.

"We'll start practice the beginning of October and he says he'll be here by the 10th, maybe a day or two later. In any case, we plan on Erik being here for at least 10 days or two weeks so he'll have a chance to familiarize himself with our players and system."

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