Blast season ticket holders are out of reach, not out of mind, for Spirit


Attention, former Blast season ticket holders: If you haven't heard from the new National Professional Soccer League team in town, it's because the Spirit doesn't know who you are.

Owner Bill Stealey said yesterday that the Spirit offices have been getting calls from former Blast ticket holders asking about season renewal forms. Stealey, who has had conversations with Ed Hale, owner of the Blast's name and season-ticket list, has not been able to reach agreement on the purchase of the list.

"We don't have the list, and we're probably not going to get it," Stealey said. "It's a business decision. So we need the fans to reach us."

Besides calling the Spirit office at (410) 625-2320, fans may choose season-ticket seats at the Arena Aug. 30, noon to 4 p.m.

Fans also will be able to watch players scrimmage that afternoon during an open team tryout.

Players who are U.S. citizens and interested in trying out for the Spirit may send a resume with coaching references to the Spirit offices at the Baltimore Arena. Invitations will be issued to the camp. The tryouts are limited to Americans because NPSL bylaws dictate that 90 percent of a team's roster be American.

As expected, the Spirit announced the signing of former Blast players Rusty Troy and Joe Koziol, bringing its roster to three. Baltimore native Jason Dieter was the first player signed last month.

"Now we have three players," said Koziol, who also will work in the fall as an assistant soccer coach at Loyola College. "Hopefully we'll sign two more soon so we'll have at least one full line. For me, it's a weight off my shoulder to know I'll be doing something I really like to do."

Koziol said after the Major Soccer League folded this summer he often was asked by soccer playing kids what his future would be.

"One reason we continue to play is love of the game," he said. "But it's also for the kids in Baltimore. If we can show or help even three kids to understand what can be done through dedication then we're doing a worthwhile job."

Coach Kenny Cooper said his office is inundated with calls from former MSL players seeking employment. Despite that, the Spirit is taking its time putting a roster together.

"I don't want to get caught short of players," Cooper said. "But I also want to keep open the opportunity of getting a nationally recognized player if a Tatu or Preki is available. We're watching everything right now from the bottom up to the top."

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