Revamped defense keeping Blast competitive

Wright gets a fire scare

Scheer on scoring tear

MISL notebook

Soccer

October 31, 2003|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Coming off its Major Indoor Soccer League championship season, the Blast added to its offense while the key subtractions came on defense. In the team's 2-2 start, you wouldn't have noticed.

With the Blast still finding its way with an influx of new offensive talent, the defense has kept the team in every game, averaging four goals allowed. Friday's 3-2 win over Dallas was a defensive gem with a bonus from backup goalkeeper Karim Mounbam, who stopped six of eight shots with starter Scott Hileman sidelined with a sprained shoulder.

"We have defenders who have a lot of composure on the ball," said defender Billy Nelson. "We feel the more we can hold the ball and control the tempo of the game, the harder it will be for teams to stop us with our offense."

Veteran Danny Kelly's smooth adjustment from midfield to the back has played a big role in the team's continued sound defense.

"I'm enjoying the challenge," Kelly said. "My job as a midfielder was to attack and distribute, and in the back I'm still going to do those things. I just have to pick my spots and try to be more of a calming influence when I have the ball."

Wright escapes fire

For Paul Wright, the former Blast and current San Diego Sockers star, the wildfires that have ravaged the San Diego area hit close to home. On Sunday, Wright and his family were evacuated from their downtown apartment for two days. He returned to find two buildings in his complex burned down, but his unit was unharmed.

"We've dealt with wildfires before, but they've always stayed outside of the city. This one came right through. When I came back, it looked like a war zone," said Wright, a San Diego native. "You just worry about making sure your family is safe, and we feel fortunate everyone is OK. It's been tough, because you couldn't go outside much with the poor air quality, but things are getting better."

The Sockers postponed tonight's home game against the Monterrey Fury, with no make-up date set. The club also provided more than 3,000 meals to help support wildfire victims.

Scheer breaks out

With 21 goals in three games, the expansion St. Louis Steamers (2-1) are the highest scoring team in the MISL.

Helping the cause is former Blast midfielder Craig Scheer, who is making the most of increased playing time.

The Cape Girardeau, Mo., native has scored in every game and has four this season to go with a team-high six blocks. Scheer, who played sparingly in two seasons with the Blast, went to the Steamers in the expansion draft.

Extra kicks

Victor Nogueira, who won nine Goalkeeper of the Year awards during his 11 seasons with the Milwaukee Wave, is 0-3 with his new team, the Sockers. Much of the blame can be placed on a Sockers attack that has scored only seven goals. ... Blast midfielder Denison Cabral will raffle off four jerseys this season, with the money raised going to local charities. Raffle tickets can be bought at all home games. Winning tickets will be chosen during Blast games on Nov. 21, Jan. 9, Feb. 21 and April 2. ... The Wave and Cleveland Force, the league's only unbeaten teams at 2-0, will play on consecutive nights this weekend -- tonight in Milwaukee and tomorrow in Cleveland.

MISL standings

Eastern Division

W L Pct. GB

Cleveland 2 0 1.000 -

Philadelphia 2 1 .667 1/2

Blast 2 2 .500 1

Central Divsion

W L Pct. GB

Milwaukee 2 0 1.000 -

St. Louis 2 1 .667 1/2

Kansas City 1 2 .333 1 1/2

Western Division

W L Pct. GB

Dallas 2 3 .400 -

Monterrey 1 2 .333 -

San Diego 0 3 .000 1

Tonight's games

Cleveland at Milwaukee, 8 p.m. Monterrey at San Diego, ppd., wildfires

Tomorrow's games

Blast at Philadelphia, 7:05 p.m. Milwaukee at Cleveland, 7:05 p.m. San Diego at Dallas, 8:05 p.m.

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