MISL Review : League Hopes Starshot Competition Adds Some Sock to All-Star Game

Scissor kicks instead of tomahawk dunks. Flying headers instead of two-handed windmill slams.

It’s the Major Indoor Soccer League’s answer to the NBA’s slam dunk contest.

As part of a three-day all-star schedule of events, the first Starshot competition will be held Tuesday night in the Tacoma Dome. A concert featuring Tiffany will follow the competition. The All-Star Game will be played Wednesday.

In Starshot, teams of two players will begin at midfield and have 20 seconds to score the most flamboyant goal.


Each of the 11 teams will be represented, with the judges narrowing the field to 4 teams and then to 2. The panel of seven judges consists of injured Dallas forward Tatu, Tacoma Mayor Doug Sutherland, representatives from three sponsors, a Tacoma television personality and a Star season-ticket holder.

The winning team will earn $5,000, and the coach of the winning team will receive two round-trip airline tickets.

“I don’t know if they’re looking for something cute, entertaining or skillful,” said Ron Newman, Socker coach. “Is everyone going to do a scissors kick? Are they looking for everyone to do flying shots?”

Unlike the NBA’s slam dunk competition, Starshot will not necessarily feature the league’s most exciting or feared offensive players. Many chose players who were not picked for the all-star team.

Roommates Waad Hirmez and Paul Dougherty, both of whom are having surprisingly successful offensive seasons, will represent the Sockers.

The others include: Richard Chinapoo and Bruce Savage of Baltimore; Batata and Heinz Wirtz of Chicago; Elias Zurita and Rui Felgueira of Cleveland; Scott Bell and Mike Lugris of Dallas; Kia and Chris Hundelt of Kansas City; Chris Chueden and Michael Collins of Los Angeles; Hector Marinaro and Mike Sweeney of Minnesota; Daryl Doran and Poli Garcia of St. Louis; Mike Betchell and Gregg Blasingame of Tacoma, and Frank Rasmussen and Mirsad Kahrovic of Wichita.

Some clubs held competitions to select their players, and others were named by the coach. Originally, Newman picked defender Brian Schmetzer to team with Hirmez because Schmetzer is from the Seattle area. But when Schmetzer said he couldn’t make it, Dougherty was selected.

As for comparing the Starshot to the slam dunk competition, Newman says there’s no comparison: “Putting it in goal is much harder than a slam dunk.”


Sockers at the All-Star Game: Which Sockers won’t be in Tacoma?

Branko Segota, Brian Quinn, Zoltan Toth, Fernando Clavijo and Kevin Crow were voted to the Western Division team. Newman was selected by Tacoma Star Coach Alan Hinton to be his assistant on the Western team. Hirmez and Dougherty are representing San Diego in the Starshot competition. Juli Veee, Segota, Toth and Clavijo are among the 10 players who will be honored for their selection to the MISL First Decade All-Star team.

State of the League: Primary topics to be discussed at league meetings held in conjunction with the All-Star Game:

Will the MISL expand to Denver; Worcester, Mass.; Greensboro, N.C.; St. Petersburg, Fla., or the Miami area? Will the St. Louis Steamers--whose attendance has been floundering all year--fold before the end of the season?


Will the regular-season schedule be expanded or reduced or will it remain at 56 games? Will the league office relocate to Kansas City during the off-season? Will there be any revisions in the salary cap of $1.275 million per team?

Commissioner Bill Kentling thinks the cities with the best chance of getting expansion teams next season are Denver, Worcester and possibly Greensboro. But he is in no rush to add teams.

“I don’t think we should go from 11 teams to 20 and then back to 13,” Kentling said.

Kentling said the league recognizes that the Steamers are struggling and will “do everything possible to correct those problems.”


The regular season should remain at 56 games, Kentling said. The schedule was expanded from 52 games to 56 before this season.

“We’ve reached the level we should be at in this economy,” he said. “We need to take enough time to make a real analysis.”

Kentling has recommended that the league office, which has moved from Philadelphia to Chicago to New York in the past four years, be moved from New York City.

“It’s too expensive and there is not enough of a reward for being (in New York),” Kentling said. “I’d like to move us back into a community where we are well-known.”


And to a community where there is a MISL club. The office moved to New York City before the 1986-87 season, and the New York Express folded midway through the season.

Dallas, Cleveland and Kansas City have bid for the league office, but Kentling said Kansas City has been the most aggressive.

Kentling was most adamant in defending the current salary cap, implemented before the 1986-87 season.

“If anything, it’s kept the league in business,” Kentling said. “It has limited labor costs and given teams a chance to limit their financial losses. A lot of members would be out of business if it weren’t for the salary cap.”


Bing Goes: Bing Devine, St. Louis Steamer president, resigned Wednesday, only four months and two days after accepting the job. Devine, 71, cited team financial problems as the primary reason for his decision.

“I don’t want to be responsible, to have that emotional pressure of solving the payroll problems,” said Devine, a former baseball and football executive. “If you don’t meet payrolls, you’re out of business. . . .

“I don’t want to make it sound like I’m being a big hero. I’m doing it because it’s good and right for myself, but the side benefit is to make people realize--if there was anything left anybody could do--that they had to do something, or it was probably going down the drain.”

There has been speculation that the Steamers might not survive the season, but Devine said there are potential investors who have indicated an interest in becoming involved if they could gain control.


He Always Has An Opinion: Jean Willrich, former Socker captain, is in Wichita, but he still keeps an eye on the Sockers.

After the Wings beat the Sockers, 7-4, Wednesday night at the San Diego Sports Arena, Willrich said: “Why is Juli (Veee) on the bench? Is he (Newman) hiding him? Juli should play.”