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Spirit's newest player says he'll be fast study Ibsen, an indoor rookie, has 'quality' reputation


Zak Ibsen, the Spirit's newest player, is nothing if not confident.

When Ibsen, who has never played indoor soccer, was asked how long it would take to make the adjustment from the outdoor game, he smiled and said, "Oh, a few days."

Ibsen, 23, who has played in 14 international games with the U.S. national team, yesterday signed a one-year contract with the Spirit. He will work as a defender and midfielder in training camp until coach Dave MacWilliams determines his position for the season.

"I don't see any problems adjusting," Ibsen said. "My game is quickness, speed and strength. I'll adapt well to the indoor game."

Smiling while Ibsen said that, MacWilliams added, "All quality players can adjust. And he's quality. We'll utilize his quickness. I can see him darting down the floor, breaking down defenses."

Ibsen, who was born in San Francisco and lives in Santa Clara, Calif., played on UCLA's 1990 NCAA championship team and for the U.S. in the 1992 Olympics.

He has played in Germany and was a 1994 teammate of the Spirit's Omid Namazi and Brad Smith on the American Professional Soccer League's Los Angeles Salsa. Although he was in the U.S. national team player pool in the summer of 1994, he did not play in any of the country's four World Cup games.

"A lot of teams wanted Zak," MacWilliams said. "We're fortunate to get him."

Ibsen is under contract to Major League Soccer, scheduled to begin play next spring. His intention is to play a lot of soccer with the aim of returning to the U.S. national team.

"I've been on the national team since I was 19," Ibsen said "The only way to get better is to play every day. That's my ticket to getting back on the national team. Steve Sampson [the national team coach] wanted me to play abroad or in South America, but I wanted a more settled situation in this country."

NOTES: Jeff Rogers, acquired in the NPSL expansion draft, did not report to camp and has been suspended. The Spirit expects to trade him soon, and vice president Drew Forrester said several teams are interested. "We don't want anyone who doesn't want to come here," MacWilliams said. . . . Twice a month, the Spirit will produce "The Baltimore Soccer Show" that will air on Channel 2. The inaugural 30-minute show is scheduled Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. The show will focus on youth soccer and include segments on home video tapes of winning goals sent in by fans. Videotapes may be sent to: The Baltimore Soccer Show, 201 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, Md. For more information, call 625-2320. . . . Bill Rothe has retired after 15 years as the Baltimore Arena's soccer voice. The Spirit will select his successor within a few weeks.

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