Blast Weekend: Previewing Friday and Saturday's home games

Major League SoccerVancouver Whitecaps FC1st Mariner Arena

Friday: Syracuse Silver Knights at Blast, 7:35 p.m.

Saturday: Rochester Lancers at Blast, 7:35 p.m.

Site: 1st Mariner Arena

Video: baltimoreblast.com/schedule/broadcast schedule

Outlook: Riding a three-game win streak, the Blast (8-3) is in first place in the Major Indoor Soccer League's Eastern Division and has a chance to pad its 2 1/2-game lead with back-to-back games against its closest competition. Up first is second-place Syracuse (6-6), which has been the main contributor to the Blast's disappointing 1-3 home mark. The Silver Knights have won the first two meetings at 1st Mariner Arena, while the Blast was able to get one win back in Syracuse. On Saturday, the Blast meets third-place Rochester (6-7) as the Lancers make their first visit to Baltimore after two home losses to the Blast. Coming off an impressive 9-4 win at Milwaukee on Dec. 31 — the Central Division-leading Wave's first loss after eight wins — the Blast will have an added boost of offense with the signing Wednesday of Brazilian native Ricardinho. A nine-year veteran of the indoor game, the highly skilled midfielder last played with the defunct Omaha Vipers. He fills the void left by the departure of five-year veteran Matt Watson, who was given his release to join the Major League Soccer's Vancouver Whitecaps. The Lancers come with plenty of firepower, boasting the MISL's top scorer in Mauricio Salles (49 points) and four of the league's top eight. During halftime of Saturday's game, the Blast will have a ceremony to induct former standouts Dan Counce and Rusty Troy into the team's Hall of Fame.

-- Glenn Graham

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