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Banged-Up Heat Loses to Seattle in Overtime

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Only four games into its 20-game schedule, the Los Angeles Heat looks more like a group in a physician’s waiting room than a soccer team.

“We’ve had a lot of injuries . . . We haven’t had a set lineup yet,” Coach Bobby Sibbald said after Friday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Seattle Storm in an American Professional Soccer League West game at West Torrance High.

Sibbald said the Heat (2-2) played its best game of the season, only to collect more bumps and bruises. At least three starters were nursing ankle injuries, and goalie Mike Littman was limping because of a groin pull.

Last week, midfielder J.B. Frost drew a one-game suspension for fighting during the Heat’s 1-0 victory over the California Emperors. In Frost’s place, midfielder Mike Gregorian, returning from a similar suspension, played well Friday, but he, too, came up limping.

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Midfielder Waldir Guerra also had a sore ankle. Usually a starter, he came off the bench Friday, but after a second-half collision with a Seattle player, he had to be helped off the field.

Once the injuries heal, Sibbald predicted, the team will be a contender. “We have to keep our heads up and keep plugging away,” he said.

On Friday the Heat took a 1-0 lead on Steve Sharp’s goal two minutes into the game. At the 85-minute mark, a teammate screened Littman’s view of a shot by Storm midfielder Eddie Henderson, which tied the score, 1-1.

The teams exchanged goals in the first 10-minute overtime. In the second overtime, Seattle’s Chance Fry scored the winner on a breakaway up the middle of the field.

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The Heat contended that all three Seattle goals should have been nullified by offside calls.

“I felt like it was Christmas out there (for the opposition),” Sibbald said.

But Littman said the loss “will help us. Now we will play together.”

HEAT NOTES: Friday’s crowd was estimated at 750. . . . The Heat will be in Chula Vista May 26 for an APSL West game with the first-place San Diego Nomads. . . . An exhibition game with the West Bromwich Albion Football Club of England will be played May 23 at 7:30 p.m. at West High, not Wednesday as reported earlier. . . . Littman, who went nearly three consecutive games without allowing a goal, was voted the game’s most valuable player Friday night.

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Cal State Dominguez Hills soccer Coach Marine Cano was in a Heat uniform Friday night but did not play. Cano, 35, is expected to back up Littman. . . . Cano’s assistant men’s coach, John Girrard, is still looking for a team to play on. Girrard, an Englishman, was released by the Heat recently because the league allows only two foreign players per team. . . . Guerra, the former Cal State Los Angeles star, might limp down the isle at his wedding today.

APSL West schedule makers have the Heat playing at home in four of their first six games, but beginning with a trip to Salt Lake City June 9, the Heat has to play five of seven games on the road.


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