The roster for the Baltimore Bays outdoor soccer team reads like a "Who's Who in the Indoor Soccer World" and Bays coach Kevin Healey certainly seems to be enjoying the plot.
And why shouldn't he?
In its first season in the United States Interregional Soccer League last winter, Healey's indoor squad produced a 14-1 record before settling for third place behind the league-champion Atlanta Magic and the Chattanooga Express.
The Bays' inaugural outdoor season in the USISL wasn't as celebrated, though, as they finished 5-11, but Healey is hoping the acquisition of some marquee players can help Baltimore forget about last year's 5-11 mark.
"We were just getting the franchise off the ground last year but we were still competitive and we gained a lot of experience," said Healey, whose team will open its 20-game outdoor season today in Columbia, S.C. "We had a lot of success indoors and we've built some confidence. We're hoping to extend that success to outdoor season. We have a lot of offensive firepower."
Baltimore's offense includes former Blast players Billy Ronson and Mark Mettrick, Baltimore Spirit rookie forward Tarik Walker, and Joe Koziol, who started for the Bays during the indoor season before joining the Spirit for the playoffs.
"Mettrick and Walker are our go-to guys," said Healey. "Both are strong players."
Jeff Nattans, who played every minute of every game last year for the Maryland Bays, will anchor Baltimore's defensive unit along with Steve Nichols and, hopefully, Joe Barger. Barger, a team captain who played for Fallston High and Loyola College, strained a ligament in his knee and is out indefinitely.
BAYS AT A GLANCE
Affiliation: United States Interregional Soccer League
Home field: UMBC Stadium
Last season's record: 5-11
Coach: Kevin Healey (second season)
Key players: Joe Barger, defenseman; Billy Harte, defenseman; Brian Hartlove, goalie; Scott Manning, goalie; Mark Mettrick, midfielder/defenseman; Steve Nichols, defenseman; Billy Ronson, midfielder/forward; Rusty Troy, midfielder/forward.
Tickets: Available at the gate ($7.50 for adults, $6.50 for students). A 10-game package of season tickets can be purchased for $50 at Billy Ronson's Soccer World or by calling (410) 682-2222 or (410) 327-BAYS.
BAYS OUTDOOR SCHEDULE
April--23, at Columbia, 7:30 p.m.; 24, at Charleston, 2 p.m.; 30, at Hampton Roads, 7:30 p.m. May--7, Richmond, 7:30 p.m.; 20, at Philadelphia, 8 p.m.; 21, at Washington, 8 p.m.; 28, Charleston, 7:30 p.m. June--4, Greensboro, 7:30 p.m.; 10, at Charlotte, 8 p.m.; 11, at Raleigh, 7:30 p.m.; 17 at Richmond, 8 p.m.; 18, Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.; 25, Raleigh, 7:30 p.m.; 26, South Florida, 2 p.m. July--1, Washington, 8 p.m.; 2, Columbia, 7:30 p.m.; 9, at Greensboro, 7:30 p.m.; 15, at Detroit, 8 p.m.; 17, Philadelphia, 2 p.m.; 22, Hampton Roads, 8 p.m.