Three Spirit players await league's action on fight


The Spirit is waiting word from National Professional Soccer League commissioner Steve Paxos concerning the action to be taken following Saturday night's incident at Kansas City.

The Spirit and host Attack were involved in a bench-clearing brawl that interrupted the third quarter for 30 minutes.

Spirit forward Jon Parry was ejected for punching Attack midfielder Goran Hunjak, and Brad Smith and Lance Johnson were dismissed for leaving the penalty box. All three could face one-game suspensions upon further notice from Paxos. The Spirit plays host to the Dayton Dynamo on Friday night at the Baltimore Arena before traveling to Wichita to face the Wings on Saturday.

"It's a little early to make a statement," Paxos said yesterday afternoon. "We'll definitely have something decided by Thursday."

Paxos said he wasn't happy with the quality of the tape provided by the Kansas City team. The league office has requested a tape from the Spirit and may get one from a Kansas City television station. Paxos said he has received the Baltimore coaches' report along with the referee's report of the game. Kevin bTC Coetters was the lone Kansas City player ejected on Saturday as the first player to leave the bench.

The Spirit is not disputing the suspension of Parry for fighting, but Spirit vice president Drew Forrester would like to see no further action taken against Smith and Johnson.

"Jon's case appears to be cut-and-dry -- he punched him," Forrester said yesterday. "Then Kansas City coach [Zoran Savic] comes off the bench throwing his jacket and running up the tunnel to chase our player."

According to Forrester, Savic's actions caused the clearing of the benches, prompting the penalty box attendant to leave the area. Smith and Johnson then followed.

"I have a hard time seeing two guys get ejected after leaving the penalty box after the attendant left the penalty box," Forrester said. "It would be very disappointing if they weren't to dress [Saturday against Dayton]. Throwing them out of the game was punishment enough."

Said Paxos: "If the guys are in the box, they have no business going out. Once you're in the box, you don't leave until your time has expired."

The Spirit was leading the game 9-3 when the altercation occurred and ended up losing to the Attack, 11-10.

Spirit coach Dave MacWilliams said it hasn't become a distraction. "We just have to see what happens and go from there," he said. "We're preparing knowing we're not sure who's going to be able to play. We don't get into the game situations until Friday."

A new look

Expect to see a new look from the Spirit later this month, with the team changing its logo.

The original logo will stay on the team uniform for the remainder of the season, but merchandise featuring the new emblem will begin surfacing March 19 when the Spirit takes on St. Louis at the Baltimore Arena.

Forrester said the team likely will send season-ticket holders copies of what the new logo looks like before it hits the market.

"It's kind of hard to describe without actually seeing it. It's not a wholesale change, but a considerable one," Forrester said. "It's been a three- or four-month project and we think the people are going to like it."


Kevin Sloan's five goals against Kansas City on Saturday give him 64 on the year, breaking the previous team record (62) set by Paul Wright last season. Sloan has 18 goals in his last four games. . . . Kansas City defender Iain Fraser was named the NPSL Player of the Week. After a career-high nine points in a 25-4 win at Buffalo on Friday, he had three assists against Baltimore and a goal and two assists in a 21-4 rout of Chicago on Sunday. . . . Wichita Wings leading scorer Shawn Blakeman (29 goals) will be out for nine months after breaking his leg in two places in the Wings' 22-7 win over Chicago on Saturday. It was just a couple of weeks ago when Dayton's Clark Brisson, a former Spirit player, was lost for the season with the same injury. . . . Tim Wittman (back strain) is doubtful for the Spirit's two games this weekend and Mike Stankovic (sprained ankle) is probable.

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