Blast next up for attempt at stopping rolling Wave

MISL notebook

Remember Tatu? He's one of six who'll be All-Star Game guests

Soccer

January 31, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The current run of wins is five games for the first-place Milwaukee Wave, and another string earlier in the season was eight.

The team that won the past two National Professional Soccer League titles and three of the past four is 18-5 in the inaugural Major Indoor Soccer League season -- its best start ever at this point -- with no sign of letting up.

After another perfect two-win weekend, Wave coach Keith Tozer made the league's weekly quote sheet: "We're the big buck during deer season, where everybody wants to beat us because of winning last year. It's been tough but a lot of fun so far."

The Blast, which will get a visit from the Wave tomorrow night, has the next chance. The home team will be up against a Milwaukee team that averages the most points in the league (14.9) and surrenders the fewest (9.9) as it threatens to pull away from the rest midway through the season. The Philadelphia KiXX (14-8) is 3 1/2 games back in second place, with the Blast (11-11) in third.

"Obviously, Milwaukee has a good system, and they believe in themselves," said Blast coach Kevin Healey. "Getting off to a quick start is important against them. They do a good job of keeping the ball, and what they like to do is dictate the tempo of the game, so we're going to have to not allow that to happen."

The Wave has four West starters in next month's All-Star Game, led by goalkeeper Victor Nogueira (league-leading 16 wins and 9.79 points-against average) and forward Joe Reiniger, third in the league in scoring with 86 points.

While the Wave has stayed healthy most of the way, the Blast received more bad news, with midfielder Danny Kelly expected out two to six weeks with a foot injury.

World ...no ... MISL stars

The Dallas Sidekicks, St. Louis Steamers and San Diego Sockers, three of the former World Indoor Soccer League teams now part of the MISL, won't take the field until next season.

But six of the teams' players will get an earlier taste as special commissioner's selections for next month's All-Star Game.

Added to the East squad by commissioner Steve Ryan will be forward Tatu and defender Mike Powers (both Sidekicks), along with forward Mark Moser (Steamers).

Chosen to the West side are Carlos Farias and David Beltran (both Sockers), as well as veteran defender Daryl Doran (Steamers).

Tatu is the headliner. The native Brazilian has Most Valuable Players awards in three indoor leagues (Western Indoor Soccer League, Continental Indoor Soccer League and the old MISL) and has piled up 1,743 points (945 goals, 798 assists) in 698 career games.

Philadelphia coach Omid Namazi will head the East squad, and Milwaukee's Keith Tozer will handle the West on Feb. 17 at Cleveland's Gund Arena.

Goalie top defender, again

Nogueira, 42, was named MISL Defensive Player of the Week (no, this is not a recording) for a second straight week and fifth this season after leading the Wave to two weekend wins.

The Mozambique native's team won, 21-15, against Kansas City on Friday and then shut down second-place Philadelphia, 11-4, as he stopped 21 of 31 total shots, a 9.50 points-against average.

Help at the other end came from forward Brian Loftin, who finished with four two-point goals and three assists to total 11 points in the two victories. The seven-year veteran is seventh in the league in scoring with 62 points.

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