Blast foes in Midwest this weekend 25-0 at home

With new look, visitors face Comets, then Wave

Soccer

February 22, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

It's no doubt a weighty weekend assignment for the Blast - as weighty as it can possibly get in the regular season.

First up are the Kansas City Comets tonight at Kemper Arena. Then, it's right back on the field tomorrow afternoon, at Milwaukee's Bradley Center, to take on the Major Indoor Soccer League-leading Wave.

The two opponents have combined to play 25 games on their respective home turfs - the result being 25 wins. No welcome mats will be found.

"It's going to be a challenge, to go into two sites where the teams haven't lost a home game all year," said Blast coach Kevin Healey. "But it's also a great opportunity, because we can go in, get some wins that would make it a positive weekend for us."

The Blast, holding on to the Major Indoor Soccer League's fourth and final playoff spot with a 13-14 mark, is in dire need of positives.

Nine days removed from a disheartening 16-14 home loss to the Philadelphia KiXX, its second straight, the team did not sit around and fret.

It made changes.

Flashy forward Lester Felician was added from Harrisburg, and veteran defender Iain Fraser, a former member of the World Indoor Soccer League's Sacramento Knights, also was signed. Some moves will be made on the field, as well, with Henry Gutierrez going from target to midfield and Sean Bowers moving back to defense.

"It's a fresh start, and I think I needed that, because things weren't going so well in Harrisburg," said Felician.

Returning to practice on Tuesday after the five-day All-Star break, the Blast is looking at things with added intensity.

"Some of the things that are happening in games are unacceptable, and what we're doing is setting a standard in practice so that it's unacceptable in practice, as well. We're stopping play to point out mistakes," Healey said. "The time has come that we cannot allow them to continue."

The Blast came the closest to knocking off the Comets (14-12, 11-0 at home) at Kemper on Dec. 22, but let a 17-7 lead slip to a 22-21 loss.

"We respect them and what they've done, but do we feel confident going in there? Absolutely," said Healey.

For a second time this season, the Blast has to arrive in Milwaukee in the morning for an afternoon game against the rested Wave, which is 22-6 overall and 14-0 at home.

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