Richard Chinapoo often stares into space these days, and when he speaks, chooses his words very carefully.
Chinapoo, 34, wants to finish his career in a Baltimore Blast uniform, but twice in the past seven weeks he has come close to being traded to the Dallas Sidekicks.
First it was going to be Chinapoo, a midfielder, for Sidekicks defender Troy Snyder, 25, but Dallas backed out of that deal early in January.
Then last week, Chinapoo was headed to the Sidekicks for veteran defender Doc "The Indoor Warrior" Lawson. This time Lawson vetoed the trade because of public sentiment for him from the Dallas fans.
So Chinapoo will still be wearing a Blast uniform tonight when Baltimore (19-18) meets the San Diego Sockers at San Diego Sports Arena at 10:35 p.m.
But Chinapoo said before the game that he won't breathe easy until 12:01 a.m. Monday, when all Major Soccer League clubs must freeze their rosters through the last day of the playoffs.
The only exceptions are players on a club's special list (suspended, military, voluntarily retired and disabled).
"I'm not taking anything for granted," said Chinapoo. "Sure I'm hurt by it [trade talk]. But what do I have to gain from saying negative things. It can only hurt me and the team. Kenny's [coach Cooper] is paid to do his job and I'm doing my job."
Chinapoo said he wouldn't mind moving to another city on short notice "if I were making a million dollars. But we only make ordinary salaries [Chinapoo is in the $40,000 a year range and is working toward a degree at the University of Maryland Baltimore County]."
Before the Blast shut out the Tacoma Stars on Monday night at the Baltimore Arena, Cooper said he would pursue another trade for a defender if the Chinapoo-for-Lawson deal fell through. But he eased that stand after the impressive 6-0 win over the Stars.
"I have to see who's available," Cooper said yesterday. "I wanted Doc and [Dallas coach] Gordon Jago wanted Richard. We played tremendous team defense against Tacoma, but it was one game and one game doesn't make a season.
"When I look into the crystal ball, if everybody plays total team defense we win, but I know there will be a weak link and you're only as strong as your weakest link."