Players have a ball at Legends Game

MISL notebook

Excitement runs high for all at inaugural event

Marinaro stays on target


February 18, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND - The inaugural 2002 Major Indoor Soccer League Legends Game started with the white Spalding soccer ball that is now used. But after the opening tap, it was replaced by the orange and black paneled ball of the first MISL generation.

The old and the new came together for a weekend in Cleveland and for former Blast standout and current Harrisburg Heat coach Richard Chinapoo, that's what it was all about.

"To play against some of these guys, to play with them, to come back and have time to sit down and talk to them - what they're doing now, about their families - that's a time in your life that's precious," Chinapoo said. "And I think it shows - we were all like little kids out there with excitement in our eyes. I'm going to spend some time to soak this in."

Milwaukee head coach Keith Tozer scored the opening goal and the tying goal to help lead the MISL Legends to a 3-3 tie against the former Cleveland Force stars.

"It took me 30 years to score two goals," Tozer joked.

With time constraints because of the televised All-Star Game to follow, the final quarter of the Legends Game was limited to eight minutes. No players were complaining, but it appeared former Blast defender Mike Stankovic, who had two assists for the MISL Legends, had plenty left.

"This was fantastic to get the old guys back together again and having fun," Stankovic said. "It was a pretty good game. I think a lot of the guys came in pretty good shape and a lot showed up, so we could roll three lines and have a good time."

Former Blast goalkeeper Scott Manning turned back eight of the nine shots he saw after coming in for Slobo Ilijevski in the second half.

Chinapoo showed early the Legends were serious with a long ball from midfield that found a streaking Kim Roentved in the opposite corner. Roentved one-timed the feed with a full volley that was turned back by Force keeper Jim May.

Accurate display

Cleveland Crunch legend Hector Marinaro treated the hometown fans with a pinpoint display in the shooting accuracy event to highlight Saturday's inaugural skills competition.

Marinaro hit 11 of 30 targets over three rounds, wrapping up the title early enough to have some fun with a left-footed shot that found one of the competition's toughest locations: the middle target up top.

Kansas City forward Dino Delevski won the event for the hardest shot registering at 82 mph, edging Milwaukee's Joe Reiniger (80 mph) with Blast defender Sean Bowers (78) taking third place.

Having a blast

The Blast had representation in the Gund Arena crowd as well as in its strong showing on the field. Among them, four season-ticker holders who made the seven-hour drive on Saturday afternoon in time for the skills competition.

"We decided a couple weeks ago and then it was just whether we'd fly or drive - it's been a great time for the fans and the MISL has done a great job," said Bill Neighoff, 22, from Pasadena. "Just being around the players and seeing the legends play was fun. We got in the skills competition and then they had an autograph session, so we got a chance to talk with Denison Cabral and Scott Hileman. They said it's been [first class] too and they haven't seen anything like it."

Neighoff also had what turned out to be the inside scoop.

"I think Denison is going to come up big. He seemed the most excited and told me he was ready to go," he said.

Future in TV?

Among the issues addressed by league commissioner Steve Ryan over the weekend was an update on a possible television contract for next season.

One potential television deal that is in the works and talked about specifically by Ryan is with the yet-to-be-formed AOL Sports Network, which is being formed by AOL Time Warner. The potential network plans to televise the NBA during the week with available programming time over the weekend.

Much like "Hockey Night in Canada," the MISL would like to develop a game of the week.

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