Invitations were sent out yesterday for next month's Major Indoor Soccer League All-Star Game in Cleveland with five players representing the Blast.
Named as East squad starters from the Blast were defender Sean Bowers and midfielders Denison Cabral and Paul Wright. Defender Lance Johnson and goalkeeper Scott Hileman were chosen as reserves.
The game, set for 3:30 p.m. Feb. 17 at Gund Arena, will be the highlight of the inaugural MISL All-Star Weekend. The three-day event will start Feb. 15 and include a skills competition and legends game. Commissioner Steve Ryan, who's expecting a big turnout, also announced the All-Star Game will be televised live nationally, with details expected the next couple days.
"It's going to be an exceptional event, and it's going to really distinguish this league on a new level and a new platform," said Ryan.
Starting alongside Bowers, Cabral and Wright for the East team will be Philadelphia KiXX goalkeeper Peter Pappas, KiXX defender Pat Morris and Harrisburg Heat forward David Bascome.
The West team features the league's top three scorers -- Cleveland's Hector Marinaro, Kansas City's Dino Delevski and Milwaukee's Joe Reiniger. Milwaukee goalkeeper Victor Nogueira will be joined in back by teammates Troy Dusosky and Lovelace Ackah.
"It's going to be a fun thing," said Bowers, a two-time Defender of the Year. "Anytime you have an all-star game, there's not a lot of defense, and it's definitely going to be a challenge to stop [Marinaro, Delevski and Reiniger.] You'll see a lot of goals and some big saves from the goalkeepers, because there will be a lot of shots coming their way."
Cabral (64 points) and Wright (62) have been the Blast's top two scorers all season. Bowers has provided invaluable two-way play. Johnson is the team's quickest and most reliable defender. Hileman has started every game in goal.
While the West offense clearly took center stage during yesterday's conference call announcing the teams, Blast coach Kevin Healey said the East will bring some firepower as well.
"We have a couple guys who can run with the wind in Paul Wright and David Bascome, very good finishers and passers, and Denison Cabral is as skillful as any kid in the league," he said. "It's going to be a great game."
DaSilva, Nogueira tops
Kansas City forward Nino DaSilva and Nogueira were named Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week, respectively.
In leading the Comets to two wins over the Philadelphia KiXX over the weekend, DaSilva posted 11 points on three two-point goals and five assists. Last year's Rookie of the Year is tied for 12th in the league in scoring with 45 points.
Cabral earned honorable mention with a 10-point performance in Saturday's 24-22 loss in Cleveland.
Nogueira took his fourth award this season. In back-to-back wins in Harrisburg on Saturday and Sunday -- 19-8 and then 17-8 -- he turned aside 24 of 32 Heat shots and now leads the league with 14 wins and a 9.82 points-against average.
K.C. on a roll
The two victories over Philadelphia made it a statement weekend for the Comets (11-10), who have won four straight and gone over .500 for the first time since winning the season opener.
The Comets moved a half-game in front of the Blast (10-10) for third place in the league and pulled within 2 1/2 games of Philadelphia (13-7) for second place.
Three Comets are among the league's top eight scorers, led by Delevski (79 points), who is one point behind Marinaro for the league lead. Goalkeeper Chris Damico, a Kansas City native in his first season with his hometown team, ranks third with a 11.58 points-against average.
The Comets, 9-0 at Kemper Arena, visit first-place Milwaukee tomorrow before coming to Baltimore on Saturday. After one more road game, the Comets will play five straight at home.
Around the boards
The Blast, which went 2-for-2 on the power play in Saturday's loss in Cleveland, has connected a league-leading 70.8 percent with a man advantage. The team also leads the league in restart goals with 24. ... The Philadelphia-Kansas City neutral-site game in Wichita on Feb. 1 has been postponed. ... The Wave, 10-0 at home and 16-5 overall, has opened its biggest lead this season, 2 1/2 games over second-place Philadelphia.