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SPLASH THIS WEEKEND

Opponents--Tonight: Portland Pride at the Pond, 7:30; Sunday: Seattle SeaDogs at the Pond, 6 p.m.

Records--Splash 0-0; Portland 1-0; SeaDogs 1-0

Splash update--This is not an easy assignment for an opening weekend. Portland and Seattle had the most drastic make-overs and seem to be much improved. “Gone are the days of 1994 and you could look down the schedule and say, ‘There’s a win, there’s a win,’ ” said Dale Ervine. “There’s too much parity.” Ervine makes his debut as the player/coach, and tonight’s game marks the debut of the league’s tallest player, 6-foot-5 midfielder Steve Kuntz, who scored 115 goals and had 64 assists in 126 games in the National Professional Soccer League. Midfielders Sam George and Raffaele Ruotolo are no longer with the team, so Kuntz and Armando Valdivia are the likely candidates to pick up the slack. Midfielder Paul Agyeman returns July 1 from knee surgery.

Pride update--Ian Fulton, who coached the Splash last season, took over for John Bain and tries to get Portland into the playoffs for the first time. The Pride got off to a good start, winning at Arizona last week. Among the players who weren’t with the team in 1996 are Franklin McIntosh, Ben Erickson and Brett Phillips. McIntosh averaged 58.5 points at Arizona before skipping the 1996 indoor season. Erickson led Seattle in scoring and Phillips was an all-star goalkeeper for Washington.

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SeaDogs update--Coach Fernando Clavijo has brought in experience and strength--on paper. Defender Bill Crook and midfielder Dick McCormick played with the Tacoma Stars of the old Major Indoor Soccer League, but have spent the last several years outdoors competing for the Seattle Sounders. The SeaDogs had the league’s stingiest defense last year, allowing only 5.3 goals per game. The flip side? The offense averaged only 5.1, though that could change with former Socker John Olu Molomo playing a full season.


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