Road can trip up Blast's ambitions

0-3 away record mars playoff picture

Blast Notebook

Pro Soccer

December 16, 2006|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun reporter

Of paramount concern to Blast coach Danny Kelly are the injuries that have beset his roster, but another cause for worry has cropped up as well.

"If we want to make the playoffs, we have to win on the road, and that's tough to do," Kelly said. "It's much more difficult to beat a team at their place."

His words rang true Thursday night when the last-place California Cougars - a foe the Blast blasted in Baltimore, 22-6, only five days earlier - survived a late comeback to secure a 12-10 victory in Stockton, Calif.

"California hasn't forgotten Saturday night," Kelly warned beforehand.

Eight penalties helped undermine the Blast, which is 0-3 away from 1st Mariner Arena heading into tonight's game at Detroit. The Blast established a 4-0 lead early, then fell behind 12-6 before its rally fell short.

"We beat ourselves," Kelly said after a game in which Brian Rowland made his first start of the season in goal and went the distance. "We had a lot of opportunities but didn't finish them off."

The Blast has traditionally been respectable on the road. Last season, when the team won its third Major Indoor Soccer League title in four years, Baltimore had a 7-12 road record, including the playoffs. The season before, when the team did not even reach the playoffs, the road record was 6-13.

The chore of winning in the opponent's venue has been complicated recently by the losses to injury of leading scorer Giuliano Celenza, captain P.J. Wakefield, reigning MISL Most Valuable Player Adauto Neto and player-coach David Bascome. None of those players made the trip.

Bascome's surgery

Bascome underwent successful surgery Thursday at Union Memorial Hospital to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He is hopeful of returning for the playoffs, should the Blast qualify.

He was injured late in the first quarter of the Blast's Dec. 2 victory over the Milwaukee Wave, falling to the playing field near the goal. He scored five points in the first five games.

Bascome ranks 12th all time on the MISL scoring list with 1,027 points and is a five-time All-Star. He will continue his coaching duties, assisting Kelly from the bench.

Et cetera

Sagu is expected to return to the goal tonight against the Ignition. He was the league's Goalkeeper of the Week after allowing only three goals in the win over California. He leads the MISL with a .763 save percentage. ... After tonight, the Blast will play only one more game in 2006 - Dec. 30 at Chicago. Its next home game is Jan. 6 against the Ignition.

Tonight's game

Matchup -- Blast (4-3) at Detroit Ignition (3-5)

Site -- Compuware Sports Arena; Plymouth, Mich.

Time -- 7:35

Radio -- WCBM (680 AM)

Series record -- Tied 1-1

Outlook -- The Blast concludes its two-game trip against the expansion team that won the first meeting between the two in the season opener at Detroit, 8-6. Baltimore won the return match, 11-5, at 1st Mariner Arena two weeks later. Carlos Garcia is tied with injured Giuliano Celenza for the Blast scoring lead with 15 points. Detroit's Jamar Beasley has 31 points.

Kent Baker

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