Friday, October 10, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Seadogs Value Their `Money'

Seattle Times Sports Staff

BY ANY NAME - Molomo, Olu or Money - Seattle forward John Olu-Molomo is a potent goal scorer in the Continental Indoor Soccer League.

Nice and easy.

Some say John Olu-Molomo is such a good-hearted person he will give one the shirt off his back. And the SeaDog forward has - 16 times this season.

After scoring at KeyArena, Molomo does a "victory" lap, usually mimicking a plane. Sometimes he adds an improvised dance, and then he tosses his jersey to fans. He has scored 16 of his team-high 37 goals at home. The equipment managers have been concerned they might run out of his No. 10 jerseys with "Olu" stitched on the back.

"It was something the office people came up with this year," Olu-Molomo said of the jersey tossing. "I thought it was all right at first, then I saw tapes of my body and had second thoughts. It tees off the other teams because they have to wait to restart play."

Olu-Molomo, a native of Nigeria, goes with the flow so well he has yet to tell SeaDog officials his last name is hyphenated. He wore Molomo when he played with the San Diego Sockers and shortened it to Olu when he came to Seattle in 1996.

"It's easier to sign, and I wanted a fresh start," Olu-Molomo said. "I'm not fussy."

He also agreed to let the SeaDogs nickname him "Money" this season. His worth to the SeaDogs cannot be understated.

He scored a team-record six points at Anaheim on June 22. He has two four-goal games and led the team with 57 points despite missing three games with a separated shoulder.

Olu-Molomo completed his fifth hat trick Sunday when he scored the winning goal in a 6-5 victory over Portland. The victory clinched the SeaDogs' first Continental Indoor Soccer League playoff series and a berth in the Western Division finals.

They play in Sacramento at 7 p.m. Saturday and return to KeyArena for the rematch at 6:05 p.m. Sunday.

"He has an incredible ability to put any individual away at any time," SeaDog Coach Fernando Clavijo said. "He has great skills and great speed. (Defenders) usually have no time to recover."

The idea of tossing jerseys, being tagged "Money" and playing indoor soccer was as foreign to Olu-Molomo as the United States when he was growing up in Ibadan, Nigeria.

"We played soccer until it got dark," Olu-Molomo said, "but never any organized games."

With relatives in Southern California, he decided to attend Loma Linda University in 1988. He never thought much about soccer. His parents are teachers, and education was everything to the family. He has a degree in business marketing from Loma Linda and completed his two-year degree in occupational therapy in the spring.

One night after class, he saw a lighted field and joined the game.

"I felt like I held my own," he said of his introduction to NCAA soccer.

And then some. He finished with a team-record 25 goals and 15 assists.

He played one year at U.S. International in San Diego, where he attracted the Sockers' attention.

"I hated it," he said of his first indoor game. "I really had to learn the game from scratch. I was not used to getting back so quickly because I always played up front."

Soon he found the shorter indoor game suited his long legs and stride. He was named CISL Rookie of the Year in 1994 after scoring 60 points and led the team in scoring in '95 with 42 goals.

But he had a falling-out with coaches in 1996 and was traded on Aug. 23.

"I didn't think it would be to Seattle," he said. "I thought I'd retire before I'd go to Seattle."

The SeaDogs were last in the league when Olu-Molomo joined them. This season, with the return of Jean Harbor and the addition of Dick McCormick and others, they finished a CISL-best 21-7. The Sockers folded before the season.

As good as Olu-Molomo is, Clavijo emphasizes, "One player alone is not going to do it."

Olu-Molomo agrees. "At this point it's all about winning the championship," he said. "There are no personal stats. Only wins. Then you can relax."

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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