Sockers Are Whining, Not Winning, 6-3

Times Staff Writer

Winning and complaining have long been traditions of the San Diego Sockers.

The winning aspect has escaped the team recently, but the complaining has not.

Steve Zungul was doing the moaning Thursday night. He was upset at teammates for his scoreless night as the Sockers lost to Baltimore, 6-3, and remained tied for first place with the Los Angeles Lazers in the Major Indoor Soccer League's Western Division.

"It's easy for the defense to do the job on me when I don't have the ball," Zungul said. "I was going left and right to set other guys up. I didn't see anybody fixing me up. I had two chances, and I made them both for myself."

Baltimore goalkeeper Scott Manning stopped Zungul's first chance with a diving save early in the first period. Manning made a last-second save on Zungul in the fourth period that Baltimore Coach Kenny Cooper called "the best save I have ever seen indoors."

Zungul, a five-time indoor Most Valuable Player, is not having one of his more memorable seasons. He has been shutout three times in one season for the first time ever.

But while Zungul is pointing the finger at others, Coach Ron Newman thinks Zungul should look at himself.

"It's the same old thing," Newman said. "He says he's open. The reason they can't find him is because he's not open."

Despite the three scoreless games, Zungul has scored in 132 of his last 136 indoor games.

"They're not using me," he said. "I don't know why. I'm not the coach of this team."

Cooper said the Blast kept the ball from Zungul by cutting off the passing lanes. In contrast, most teams simply have a man mark Zungul throughout the game.

Defender Bruce Savage was cited by Cooper for his outstanding play.

"They didn't get the ball to Stevie Zungul too much," Savage said. "We played a diamond (defense) and wouldn't let them get the ball to him."

Baltimore, the Eastern Division leader, came into the game with 9 wins in 10 games. But it had not won in five previous San Diego appearances, including three games in the 1982-83 MISL championship series that the Sockers won in five games.

The Sockers have lost two straight and three of their last four at home. They had not lost two straight at home since Nov. 19, 1982. Things were so bad on Thursday night that many of the 9,064 fans booed after the third period when Baltimore led, 6-2.

When the teams first played this season, the Blast won at home, 6-5, on Dec. 29.

Newman expressed concern that the Sockers were getting out of shape. He hinted that two-a-day workouts may be on the way, but he did not say for sure.

"We may be losing some conditioning," Newman said. "At this moment, Baltimore is a better team than us. At the beginning of the season, we were better than they were. We lost some tough games and have lost a bit of confidence. Baltimore's confidence is high now."

The Blast gained confidence early Thursday by scoring two goals in the game's first nine minutes. San Diego pulled to within 2-1 on a Jean Willrich goal at 11:24 of the first period.

Baltimore's Stan Stamenkovic scored his first of two goals at 9:01 of the second period, giving the Blast a 3-1 halftime lead.

The Sockers' Branko Segota cut it to 3-2 off a Hugo Perez pass at 1:57 of the third period. However, Baltimore took a four-goal lead with three unanswered goals the remainder of the period.

San Diego trimmed its deficit to 6-3 on Cha Cha Namdar's goal at 2:14 of the fourth period. It would have been a 6-4 game at 2:30 except for Manning's outstanding save on Zungul.

Baltimore General Manager Mitchell Burke was so happy afterward that he gave team captain Dave MacWilliams $200 in the locker room.

"Use this for a party in Chicago," Burke said. The Blast was to have a stopover in Chicago on its flight home.

"That had to rank with one of the greatest wins ever for our franchise," Cooper said. "The Sockers are a fantastic team."

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