Against all odds, the Los Angeles Express has stumbled into another week of its United States Football League schedule.
Just seven days after playing dead for the Oakland Invaders in a 30-6 loss at the Coliseum, the Express will play host to the defending USFL champion Baltimore Stars today at 1 p.m.
Actually, the USFL champions last season were the Philadelphia Stars, but they pulled up their tent stakes and moved to Baltimore in the off-season.
Well, the Stars moved almost to Baltimore. They actually play their games in Byrd Stadium at College Park, Md.
Wherever they're from, though, the Stars figure to be nothing but trouble for the Express.
Although they are only 2-3-1 this season--not so hot for a team that lost only six games in its first two seasons in the USFL--the Stars gave indications of a comeback by defeating the Houston Gamblers, 27-14, last week.
There is only bad news, however, for the Express, the team no one believed would be 1-5 after six games.
Quarterback Steve Young probably will miss his second straight game because of a knee injury he suffered March 23 against Arizona.
Young threw some passes last week in practice but isn't ready to face the league's third-rated defense.
There is also some question whether the Express' offensive line is ready for the league's third-rated defense.
That line, which has allowed 27 sacks in six games, will be without three starters today. Tackle Jeff Hart and guard Derek Kennard are out with knee injuries, and All-USFL tackle Gary Zimmerman will miss the game with a shoulder injury.
That could mean another long day for Express quarterback Frank Seurer, who threw four interceptions last week in the Oakland loss.
"Frank doesn't usually get a whole lot of practice during the week," Express Coach John Hadl said of Seurer's role as Young's backup. "He'll be better this week. He'll be more relaxed. He's just got to settle down mentally."
The Stars seem to have settled down after a rough start.
With all the changes that come as a result of moving from town to town, the Stars seemingly had a built-in excuse for their slow start. They could have blamed it on motion sickness.
But Coach Jim Mora said it hasn't been that tough. Most of his players still live in the Philadelphia area. The team practices in Philadelphia during the week, then makes the 2-hour 45-minute ride to home games in Maryland the day before.
"It's been a little distracting," Mora said. "But it's not why our record hasn't been as good as in the past."
The reason why the record has slipped, Mora said, is better competition, a result of the league's consolidation from 18 to 14 teams this season.
Mora expects another tough game from the Express, that losing team that's just loaded with good players.
"It's not because they have a lack of talent," Mora said of the Express' record. "They have exceptional talent. What's happened to them is the same thing that's happened to us--inconsistency. I'm concerned they're going to put it together one of these days, and I just hope it isn't against us."
Perhaps Star tackle Irv Eatman put it best:
"What you have is two of the most talented teams in the league who haven't performed to their capabilities."
Express Notes Today's game will be broadcast by KEZY (1190 am), KWNK (670 am) and KWRM (1370 am). . . . $1 of each paid admission to today's game will be donated by the Express to the USA For Africa program, which is providing relief for famine victims. Express kicker Tony Zendejas has announced that he will be donating $50 for every field goal he makes to USA For Africa. . . . The Express is offering all kinds of bargains to entice fans into the Coliseum on Easter Sunday. All $11 seats will be sold at the gate for $5, and a family of five can see the game for a total of $10. . . . Baltimore Coach Jim Mora said this week that there was a 50-50 chance that running back Kelvin Bryant will play. Bryant is recovering from a pulled hamstring.