CHULA VISTA — John Gerrard, the hard-charging Englishman, introduced himself rather rudely Saturday night to new L.A. Heat forward Brad Smith.
Cut by the Heat three weeks ago, Gerrard, from Torrance, started at fullback for the San Diego Nomads against his old teammates in the American Professional Soccer League West game. Smith, who recently returned from Germany, replaced Gerrard in the Heat front line. And it was Smith who drew Gerrard heads up.
By the time the game ended, with the Heat (3-2) winning, 2-0, in overtime, both player's heads were smarting.
Gerrard took Smith's legs out from under him at least half a dozen times, including one violent episode near midfield with 20 seconds gone in the second period. Gerrard came up from behind Smith, wrapped his hands around his neck, then punched him under the eye. No yellow card was thrown, however.
Eighteen minutes later, shortly after Smith went to the turf again--this time in a collision with Kenny Boardman--Smith was taken out of the game by Heat Coach Bobby Sibbald.
Gerrard received a nasty bump on the head shortly thereafter when he tried to head a ball, but collided with a Heat player instead.
It was a physical game, but despite numerous collisions and tripping calls, the first yellow card didn't come out until Boardman tripped Smith in the Nomad section of the field.
But for the small crowd that turned out (Nomad General Manager James Jessel said it was impossible to tell how many tickets were sold), the physical nature of the game was about all there was to see until Sharp's nifty pass led to Bobby Bruch's third goal of the year with about seven minutes remaining in the first overtime period. In the first 45 minutes the teams combined to take only 10 shots, with Nomad goalie Anton Nistl, formerly of UCLA, and Heat goalie Mike Littman, formerly of El Camino College, stopping three apiece.
Only five shots were attempted in the second period. Sharp's breakaway goal with four minutes left in the second overtime period completed the scoring. (If a game is tied at the end of regulation, the APSL plays two, 10-minute overtime periods.)
San Diego (4-5) fell out of first place with the loss.