Spirit's Ukrop to miss 8 weeks with broken jaw

Spirit rookie Rob Ukrop underwent jaw surgery yesterday and will be out at least eight weeks.

Ukrop, who scored six goals in the unbeaten Spirit's first five National Professional Soccer League games, was elbowed in the mouth by the Harrisburg Heat's Dennis Hamlett in the fourth quarter of Friday night's 19-17 victory.


"It was a vicious hit," Spirit coach Kenny Cooper said. "We've sent the game film and a report to the league commissioner [Steve Paxos]. We'll push for a suspension and fine."

Hamlett, 24, drafted by the Heat out of George Mason in 1992, received five misconduct penalties for twice elbowing Ukrop.


"There's no room in the game for this," Cooper said. "We're very angry. One doctor looked at Rob's jaw and said it looked like he had been in a car accident.

"The game film shows two Harrisburg players [Franklin McIntosh and Lee Tschantret] standing over Rob when he was flat on the floor, taunting him. The boy's almost unconscious and they're doing that."

Ukrop's jaw, broken in two places, will be wired shut for five weeks. He may lose some teeth. The three-hour operation to repair the fractures was performed by Dr. Leonard Spector at Union Memorial Hospital. Ukrop will remain in the hospital for a few days.

Unable to open his jaw to talk to Cooper in the hospital Friday night, Ukrop wrote: "We're 5-0! When can I play again?"

Harrisburg coach Jim Pollihan and Heat officials did not return phone calls yesterday. Pollihan once played under and coached with Cooper in Baltimore.

"After the game, Jim and I just looked at each other," Cooper said. "I was so angry I was afraid I'd say the wrong thing."

The game was rough, and included 43 penalty minutes, one shy of the NPSL record. Spirit player Doug Neely and assistant coach Mike Stankovic were ejected.

"This was the most physical game I can recall, with the possible exception of one against New York in the early 1980s," said Cooper, who is in his 14th season in Baltimore.