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Over & back

by Steve De Rose
February 23, 2001 - National Professional Soccer League (NPSL)

Over & back

by Steve De Rose

We had some off-field action in the National Professional Soccer League this week. The big news was the Kansas City Attack's signing of Zoran Karic. "The Z-Man" (or "The Zed-Man" if you are in Canada) was released by the Cleveland Crunch before the start of this season.

The other manuever of note was the trade between the Detroit Rockers and the Philadelphia Kixx. The Rockers sent Shaun Boney to the Kixx in exchange for Domenic Mobilio.

What do I make of these moves? I'm not sure.

It is tempting to think that Detroit felt they needed more offense in order to try and catch Kansas City, but S. Boney was no offensive slouch. He is, in my view, a future star in the League. Why you would trade him for somebody who is probably drawing a bigger paycheck, and who may be playing his last season of indoor soccer, seems quixotic.

And with Detroit making this move, why would Kansas City feel the need to sign Zoran Karic, and perhaps Preki, who has broken off contract talks with the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer? These guys are not going to come cheaply. The Attack will probably make the playoffs, at the Rockers' expense, and face the Milwaukee Wave in the first round. Neither of these guys have a reputation of being Wave-killers. It will take a huge hike in attendance over the remaining Attack home games to subsidize the increased costs.

* * *

Let's look at the League standings. It may surprise you, but there are only six weeks left in the regular season. The American Conference is so congested it will probably go down to the last game to kick-off (Philadelphia @ Buffalo: April 1) to determine who will make the playoffs and who will play whom in the first round.

The squash at the top is currently between the Harrisburg Heat, Philadelphia Kixx and the Baltimore Blast. The Blast have lost five games in a row to plummet to 16-12. Wednesday's defeat at Kansas City was alarming. The Blast were ahead by 11-4 when GK Scott Hileman took a tripping penalty at the 8:40 mark of the fourth quarter. In the NPSL, goalkeepers must serve their penalties, so on came backup GK Josh Campbell. He immediately yielded a one-point shootout goal to Clovas Simas. On the ensuing yellow-line restart, he was beaten by a rapid shot off the foot of Novi Marojevic. This was a three-point goal, which released Hileman from the penalty box. Thirteen seconds later, Nino DaSilva teamed up with Simas for another two-point goal. Seventy-nine seconds after that, Alex Zotinka scored the eventual game-winning goal for Kansas City by getting to a through ball from Nate Houser before Hileman could, and chipping it by him. An insurance goal was scored two minutes later by Dane Skaric. The attendance for the school day game was 10,154. That is the fifth largest crowd in Attack history.

The Philadelphia Kixx halted their losing streak, and have won their last two games to reposition themselves atop the Conference with a 17-10 record. They have two games in foot on the 17-12 Harrisburg Heat, however, that may be insufficient. The Heat have 11 games remaining, eight of them at home. The Cleveland Crunch are 16-12 and will play at Harrisburg on Saturday night.

While Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Baltimore are bunched at the top, Cleveland and the Buffalo Blizzard are in hailing range at the bottom. The Blizzard are 13-15, having vaporized Wichita by 19-4 on Thursday night. Buffalo will contend with the Toronto Thunderhawks on Friday night at the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The remaining game on the league schedule for this week is on Tuesday night, when Baltimore hosts Philadelphia.

In the National Conference, the Milwaukee Wave finally ascended to the spot most prognosticators felt they would occupy by the season's end. The Wave's 18-12 victory over the T'Hawks on Wednesday night put the Wave in a tie with the T'Hawks at 15-11. Both teams have the same number of home and away matches left, but the last game on the league schedule this season (Game #204) has the Wave hosting the Detroit Rockers. Toronto's last two games of the season are on the road at Kansas City and Wichita. Milwaukee has only one game this week. They host the Detroit Rockers on Saturday afternoon at the Bradley Center.

I will step out for a moment here to note this stunning fact about Detroit: The Rockers, at 5-20, still haven't won as many games as had the now-defunct Edmonton Drillers when they were terminated (they were 6-3). Detroit is four games behind Kansas City for the final playoff berth in the National Conference.

The Wichita Wings are in third place with an 11-15 record. They have a significant match at Kemper Arena on Sunday afternoon versus the 10-17 Kansas City Attack. Both the Wings and the Attack have six home games remaining. A Wings' victory on Sunday would give them a two game lead on the Attack. The Wings will then travel to Ontario to play the T'Hawks on the following Wednesday and Friday nights.

Steve De Rose, a former member of the now defunct SportsBytes, joined OurSports Central as our primary NPSL correspondent. Steve, a longtime viewer of the indoor game, is a founding member of the On-Line Soccer Writers' Cooperative, a repository for electronic journalists whose stories initially appear on World-Wide Web sites.

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National Professional Soccer League Stories from February 23, 2001

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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