It's far too early for a Blast team with a disappointing 5-7 mark and the Major Indoor Soccer League's lowest-ranked offense to panic, but it is time for the team to at least find a consistent pulse.
The Blast wasn't competitive in a 12-2 embarrassment at home against the Milwaukee Wave last Friday. In Philadelphia the next night, they kept things close for three quarters before falling to the first-place KiXX, 14-8.
The team has lost three of four and is averaging just 9.5 points a game going into tomorrow's 7:35 p.m. home game with the Cleveland Crunch. After the loss to Milwaukee, frustrated veteran forward Lee Tschantret spoke out, unable to understand how a veteran group couldn't meet game challenges.
Blast coach Kevin Healey took it one step further this week.
"We went over the film session, and within our own team environment, we're critical of the things we're doing, so we're holding people accountable in those environments," he said. "I've had individual meetings with several players to go over what we think are some of the problems they're encountering, and we're looking to correct those things."
The Blast welcomes the return of defender and team captain Lance Johnson, who has been bothered by a groin injury, and Healey also plans to continue to play Danny Kelly on defense instead of his usual midfield spot.
The last-place Crunch (4-8) is coming off a 20-12 win over Harrisburg last Friday and won't play again until Dec. 27 in Philadelphia.
MISL, WISL to unite?
The MISL sent out an advisory yesterday that commissioner Steve Ryan and World Indoor Soccer League commissioner Gordon Jago will be in Dallas next Wednesday to make an announcement "regarding a new and exciting direction of professional indoor soccer."
Since the start of its inaugural season, the MISL has talked about a possible merger with the WISL or the chance of some of the latter's teams joining the MISL. The WISL consists of five teams: the Dallas Sidekicks, San Diego Sockers, St. Louis Steamers, Utah Freezz and the Sacramento Knights.
The WISL is set to start its best-of-three championship series tomorrow, with Dallas taking on San Diego.
A Wave sweep
Milwaukee's 12-2 win over the Blast led to Wave forward Joe Reiniger and backup goalkeeper Dan Green earning Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors, respectively.
Reiniger accounted for all 12 points (two three-point goals, two two-point goals, two one-point goals) to celebrate his 31st birthday and also take over the league lead in scoring with 47 points. He added an assist in the Wave's 17-4 win at Harrisburg the next night.
Green, subbing for starter Victor Nogeuira, turned back 11 of the 12 shots he faced to get his first win of the season. He is 1-2 despite a stingy 8.37 points-against average.
Just how good was the weekend for the Wave, which improved to 8-4 to move within one-half game of the KiXX (8-3) for first place? Nogueira earned honorable mention after turning back 19 of 21 Harrisburg shots on Saturday as the Wave yielded just six points in 120 minutes of play on the road.
Heat's DiFlorio sidelined
Losers of its past four games, the Heat (5-7) got more bad news this week. Heat forward Gino DiFlorio, last year's Most Valuable Player in the National Professional Soccer League, had extensive knee surgery on Wednesday and could be lost for the season.
DiFlorio, 37, tore an anterior cruciate ligament during practice last month and had arthroscopic surgery then with hopes of playing with a brace. But the knee required more extensive work. The 13-year veteran, who had eight points in the Heat's first three games, hopes to return for the end of the regular season in April.
The Blast got first career goals from rookies on back-to-back nights last weekend with defender Billy Nelson scoring on Friday night against Milwaukee and midfielder Craig Scheer scoring against Philadelphia in only his second game.