With more than a third of the Blast's roster sidelined with injuries after a 6-1 loss last night to the Milwaukee Wave, coach Tim Wittman said he will sign a 15-day playing contract just so the team will have enough players for the near future.
"I can't believe the amount of injuries we're having," said Wittman, 41, shortly after learning his leading scorer, Denison Cabral, and forward Carlos Garcia may both need surgery to repair possible anterior-cruciate ligament knee injuries.
"Every injury our players are getting are serious injuries," said Wittman. "We've got a separated shoulder, a [posterior cruciate ligament], a [medial cruciate ligament] and, tonight, two ACLs. Denison's looks really bad, and Carlos, I don't know. Maybe we'll have them back for the playoffs."
Cabral and Garcia will have magnetic resonance imaging tests today to clarify how serious their injuries are.
If they are as bad as Wittman believes, both players will face reconstructive surgery and miss five to six months.
Last night's game at 1st Mariner Arena was the first between the Blast and Wave since the best-of-five Major Indoor Soccer League Championship Series last spring that the Blast swept, 3-0. The Blast was held to one goal at home last night for the first time in four seasons.
"It's tough to be the defending champs year after year," said Milwaukee coach Keith Tozer. "This wasn't the usual game we've come to expect here. But I don't want to disrespect our players or the Blast players who played. I thought we played pretty good all night."
The Blast's losing streak reached three straight, and its record dropped to 2-4. But most worrisome were the injuries to Cabral and Garcia.
Besides signing Wittman to a 15-day, five game contract, Blast general manager Kevin Healey also signed Machel Millwood, a forward from Towson University who has been training with the Blast and played with the Syracuse Salty Dogs in the outdoor A-League last season.
"It was tough tonight with six quality players out and, at times, with Lee [Tschantret] in the [penalty] box," Wittman said. "Neil [Gilbert] is also hurting. ... I don't want to play, but at least I'm a body."
Wittman was an MISL all-star defender in the 1980s and the 1990s.
The Blast and Wave played before a crowd of 3,223, the smallest in at least two years and among the smallest for either edition of the Blast MISL franchises dating to 1980.
Healey said the small gate was more a statement of how the organization pre-sells tickets than a cause for concern.
"We're very much a group-sales business," said Healey. "We sell our games even before the schedule is released. This date wasn't on our original schedule. It was added late, after the decision by the Dallas owners not to field a team this season. In fact, this crowd shows how well our usual marketing plan works."
Without the early group sales and with a bad-weather night impacting walkups, however, Healey admitted it was a lose-lose situation.
"But we're best in the league in attendance," he said. "And we'll be back [tonight] with a good crowd - from 6,000 to 7,000, I think."
The Blast plays the expansion Chicago Storm here tonight.
Last night, the Wave played smothering defense in front of goalie Nick Vorberg and then used two goals by Marcelo Fontana early to put pressure on the Blast. It blew the game open in the final 2:35 with goals by Johnny Torres and Troy Dusosky while the Blast was using a sixth attacker.
Milwaukee 0 2 1 3 - 6
Blast 0 1 0 0 - 1
First quarter - None. Penalties - None. Second quarter - 1, Mil, Fontana (Todd Dusosky) 1:05. 2, Mil., Fontana 10:45. 3, Blast, Farias 13:40. Penalties - Tschantret, Blast (Dissent), 0:41. Tschantret, Blast (Striking), 11:10. Troy Dusosky, Mil. (Holding), 11:10. Third quarter - Scoring: 4, Mil., Mormon (Todd Dusosky) 13:11. Penalties - None Fourth quarter - 5, Mil., Howes (Oliviero) 6:27. 6, Mil., Torres 12:25. 7, Mil., Troy Dusosky 13:57. Penalties - None. Shots on goal Mil. 5-12-5-6 - 28; Blast 4-6-9-12 - 31. Shootout conversions: Mil. 0-0; Blast 0-0. Power-play conversions -Mil. 0-0; Blast 0-0. Goalies -Mil. - Vorberg (13-12, 60:00); Blast - Sagu (17-13, 56:36), Tschantret (2-0, 3:24) A - 3,223. Officials - Terry Mashino, Joseph J. Della Penna, Robert Wiley.
Matchup: Chicago Storm (2-2) vs. Blast (2-4)
Site: 1st Mariner Arena
Radio: WCBM (680 AM)
Outlook: In its first season in the MISL, the Storm has beaten Milwaukee and Cleveland. Chicago is led by forward Byron Alvarez (four goals, one assist), defenseman Costea Decu (one goal, four assists), midfielder Chris Carrieri (three goals, three assists) and midfielder Leo Pernia (three goals, one assist). In goal, the Storm has been relying on Danny Waltman, who has a 6.55 goals-against-average. Blast coach Tim Wittman is undecided on his starter in goal. Sagu started against Milwaukee last night. There are few changes in the Blast's injury report: midfielders P.J. Wakefield (shoulder) and Allen Eller (knee) and defenders Danny Kelly (knee) and Adilson De Lima (knee) are out, and forwards Carlos Garcia (foot) and Denison Cabral (back) are questionable. Chicago defenseman Teddy Chronopoulos (heel injury) is out and forward Awadalla Morad (groin strain) is doubtful.
- Sandra McKee