Will the Thursday disclosure that the Los Angeles Heat plans to leave the South Bay in turn leave its players with any fire?
That's a question that will be answered this weekend in a crucial two-game set for the Orange County-bound American Professional Soccer League West team.
The Heat trails the third-place San Diego Nomads by only a single point in the league's Southern Division and the teams meet Sunday at 4 p.m. at West Torrance High. Saturday afternoon at 5 the Heat plays first-place Real Santa Barbara at Santa Barbara City College.
Meanwhile, San Diego plays host to the California Emperors Sunday in Chula Vista while Arizona, which is a single point back of Los Angeles, plays at San Francisco.
The regular season ends next weekend and yet the divisional race is a logjam thanks to the league's unusual scoring system that awards bonus points for the number of goals scored. Only 17 points separate all six teams and only four points separate four teams from third place and a final playoff spot. A victory in regulation time is worth six points. Each goal, up to a maximum of three a game, also adds a point.
Several former South Bay stars could figure prominently in the weekend's outcome.
The Emperors, led by former Cal State Dominguez Hills goalie Chris Wilson and Mira Costa High's Kurt Allen, have won four consecutive games to vault from last place into second place, two points behind Real Santa Barbara. Paul Krumpe of Redondo Beach, who was voted to the All-APSL West team earlier in the week, is expected to start for Real Santa Barbara.
San Diego has midfielder John Gerrard of Torrance and striker Steve Sharp, both cut earlier this season by the Heat. Sharp, however, who scored the winning goal for the Heat in a victory over San Diego in May, may not be available Sunday because of a scheduling conflict with his full-time job as a car salesman in Hermosa Beach.
Gerrard, who has accumulated four yellow cards, faces a one-game suspension if he receives another.
Heat defender Danny Pena has been voted to the All-APSL West first team for the second time in his career. He was also chosen in 1988.
The Heat will be without defender Eric Biefeld Saturday. Biefeld is serving a one-game suspension for a red card received in a 2-1 victory over Arizona on Sunday.