Blast has extra-man power, problem

NPSL notebook

February 09, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

When the Blast power-play unit takes the field, coach Kevin Healey likes his team's chances for producing a goal. Converting 44.8 percent of its extra-man opportunities, the Blast ranks third in the National Professional Soccer League.

But the team has a power-play problem, too -- keeping opponents from scoring while teammates sit out a penalties. Defensively, the Blast stops 46 percent of power-plays against it, second worst in the league.

"We've been struggling on the defensive side, but lately we've been getting better in that," Healey said. "It is just something that we are continuing to work on."

The Blast's 29 power-play chances rank second in the league, and Healey said the number of penalties called against the Blast is down from last year.

"Our discipline has been good," Healey said. "We've been given very few game-misconducts, too, which lead to shootouts."

All-Star assist for Cabral

Midfielder Denison Cabral, the only Blast player to make last week's NPSL All-Star Game, proved he deserved to be with the best, getting a key assist in Team USA's 18-12 win over Team Canada.

Cabral capped off his All-Star Game debut by setting up a goal by Kansas City's Clovis Simas that cut Team Canada's lead to 10-8.

"It was a good time to score the goal," Cabral said. "I passed the ball to the guy, he got one-on-one with the goalie and put the ball in the net."

Cabral was forced to play in new shoes and buy new clothes after his luggage was lost at the airport after he arrived.

"I had to go to the mall and buy shoes and clothes," Cabral said. "But the most important thing was for me to just be there and be part of the game."

Blast to face tough goalie

The Blast will be facing the league's defensive Player of the Week on Saturday, Harrisburg goalkeeper Doug Petras.

Petras helped the Heat to two upsets last week at Philadelphia and Cleveland, totaling 59 saves, including a team-record 31 Sunday in Cleveland.

Milwaukee's Jason Willan was the offensive Player of the Week.

More Blast

Several current or former members of the U.S. women's national team will be at Saturday's Blast game at Baltimore Arena to sign autographs, among them: Tammy Pearman, Jamie Pagliarulo, Collette Cunningham, Megan McCarthy and Staci Wilson. The W-League's Maryland Pride will play a mini-game at halftime.

Defender Todd Hicks has eight blocks and five points in eight games since returning from a back injury suffered during a preseason scrimmage against Philadelphia that cost him the season's first 19 games.

"I think I'm doing all right," Hicks said. "I'm just trying to give a little energy boost whenever I get in. With a back injury in soccer, anytime you strike a ball, it triggers a spasm. So it kind of took a long time, and there wasn't much I could do about it, except just rest it."

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