McIntosh, fans' nemesis, could end up with Spirit

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The man who tormented the Spirit and its fans for two years could be headed here.

Franklin McIntosh, doubtless the most villainous opposing player in the eyes of the Spirit faithful, is on the Harrisburg Heat's trading block. The Heat notified National Professional Soccer League teams that it is willing to trade or sell McIntosh, a contract holdout.

"Franklin is contacting teams to gauge interest," Spirit vice president Drew Forrester said. "He told me yesterday he's interested in moving on, that Baltimore has a good franchise and fans and a solid team. He's open to it. We have some interest."

McIntosh, 31, is the NPSL's all-time leading scorer with 743 points in seven seasons, including 151 last year, eighth best in the league. He spent his first pro season, 1987-88, in the old Major Soccer League after the Blast drafted him out of New York Tech, and had two goals in 17 games.

The flip side to McIntosh is that he has on occasion antagonized Baltimore fans, responding to taunts with obscene gestures.

"We'll weigh that," Forrester said. "He hasn't always been the instigator; he has been provoked. Some of the fans' dislike of him stems from the fact he beats us and then rubs it in."

In two seasons, McIntosh scored 70 points in 15 games against the Spirit, including 22 in four playoff games. When Harrisburg eliminated the Spirit from the playoffs for the second straight time last season, McIntosh led both teams in scoring with 13 points in the two games.

"He's a quality player who's experienced in big games," Forrester said. "We're a young team, with 20 years less experience than last year. McIntosh could help. There aren't many 160- to 170-point scorers available."

Namazi joins practice

Omid Namazi, who played for the Maryland Bays when they won the American Professional Soccer League championship in 1989, is scheduled to begin practicing with the Spirit today. Namazi, 28, a defender-midfielder who played for West Virginia University, spent last summer with the APSL's Los Angeles Salsa.

"He has a lot of experience -- seven pro seasons -- although most of it is outdoors," Forrester said. "Kevin [Sloan] is hurt and so is Jamie [Christie], which has limited us."

Sloan, the Spirit's leading scorer, sprained the second toe on his right foot in Saturday's loss to Harrisburg and is questionable for Friday's game here against the Milwaukee Wave. Christie, a rookie, has missed seven games with a pulled hamstring.

Goalie Cris Vaccaro, who has played only 30 minutes in the past seven games, is probable against Milwaukee. He had a pulled hamstring, then strained a back muscle in attempting to return to action too quickly.

Miscellaneous

After indicating he would retire after last season with the Spirit, Dan O'Keefe has popped up with the Detroit Rockers. O'Keefe, who helped the Rockers win the NPSL championship in 1992, has four points in two games. . . . Detroit's Bryan Finnerty sat out last weekend with a leg injury, ending his NPSL-record streak of 115 straight starts by a goalie. . . . Jamie Swanner, a five-time NPSL Goalie of the Year, was named Player of the Month after leading the St. Louis Ambush, which features the league's stingiest defense, to a National Division-best 7-2 record. . . . The Cleveland Crunch's Zoran Karic and Hector Marinaro shared Player of the Week honors after combining for 38 points in a pair of wins, one over the Spirit. . . . If Milwaukee wins Friday, coach Keith Tozer will have his 200th NPSL coaching victory. The Wave is led by former Spirit Michael King (23 points).

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