The Blast Are Kickin’

by Darrell Carter
Amid financial losses and defunct teams, indoor soccer has survived. The Blast are back and ready to kick around some new soccer balls. The league, formerly known as the National Professional Soccer League, is now the Major Indoor Soccer League. Indoor soccer purists will recall the old MISL league of the late ’70’s through the early ’90’s.

League officials scaled back 11 teams to six, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Harrisburg, and Cleveland. Commissioner Steve Ryan has restructured the league into a limited liability company with ownership made up of a collection of individual team investors and operators.

There will be several changes to the rules this year in an effort to create more excitement on the field. These include the elimination of the over–and–back and the ten-second advance rules, and the creation of a goalkeeper delay rule.

Baltimore Blast fans will enjoy the additions of dispersal draft picks Danny Barber and Dewan Bader from Buffalo, and Sean Bowers from Detroit. Thirteen members of last season’s American Conference (NPSL) finalists will rejoin the team for the 2001-02 season.

Let’s take a look at two of the Blast newcomers, plus steady midfielder Paul Wright:

Midfielder Danny Barber represented Buffalo last season in the NPSL All-Star game. He played in over 150 NPSL games and registered his 100th career assist last November. Barber was a member of the 1999 Continental Indoor Soccer League Championship Las Vegas Dust Devils team. Drafted by the New York Metro Stars, an outdoor soccer team, in the third round of the 1996 supplemental draft, Barber has since found success in the indoor game. The former University of Nevada graduate received his degree in Sports & Fitness Management.

Defender Sean Barber served as player/coach for Detroit in 2000-01. He led his team with 33 assists, and finished third in scoring (99 points). He is 17 blocks shy of becoming the second player in NPSL/MISL history to record 600 points and 600 blocks. Furthermore, he is ranked first in Detroit Rocker history in points scored (668), and second in assists (149). In the 1991-92 season Barber was named NPSL Rookie of the Year. After scoring 104 points, his Rocker team was en-route to a championship.

Blast midfielder Paul Wright ranked second in points scored (103) last season. He surpassed the 100-points mark for the third time in his five-year NPSL career. Wright also scored his 400th career point last season. He originally signed with Baltimore as a free agent in July 1993, left Baltimore shortly thereafter, and then returned for the 1999-2000 season.

The Baltimore Marathon

The first annual Baltimore Marathon was a success. Around 6,000 participants tackled the 26-mile course through the streets of Baltimore. Kenya residents took the top three positions in the men’s category. Luke Cherono of Kenya, 24, won with a time of 2:19:46 and the top prize of $3,000. Kenyan Sammy Kosgei finished second with a time of 2:22:11, and Kenyan Simon Cherokong finished third with a time of 2:22:53. Chris Chattin of Columbia, MD finished fifth with a time of 2:29:15, and Baltimorean Joseph Smith placed eighth with a time of 2:36:44.

In the women’s category, 29-year-old Elvira Kolpakova of Russia won with a time of 2:52:08. She placed 33rd overall. Melissa Rittenhouse, 25, of Baltimore, placed second in the women’s category and 40th overall. Her time was 2:54:45.

Paul Barents, 57, won the Wheelchair competition with a time of 2:04.

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This story was published on December 5, 2001.