McIntosh finds Sloan, giving Spirit impressive numbers 2 of league's top scorers make a hot combination

THE BALTIMORE SUN

If the Cleveland Crunch's Zoran Karic and Hector Marinaro are the Dynamic Duo of National Professional Soccer League scoring, what does that make the Spirit's Franklin McIntosh and Kevin Sloan?

Dynamic Duo II, perhaps?

While Karic and Marinaro rank first and third with 74 and 67 points, respectively, in the scoring race, McIntosh and Sloan are second and eighth with 68 and 49. No other team has two scorers so close to the top.

After playing together for a year, McIntosh and Sloan have developed a chemistry that is leading to goals at a steadily increasing rate.

Since collaborating on only one goal in the first nine games -- McIntosh with Sloan assisting -- they have teamed on six in the past three games, five with McIntosh feeding Sloan.

"This is two great players on top of their games working for each other," teammate Bobby Joe Esposito said as the Spirit prepared for tonight's game against the Harrisburg Heat at the Baltimore Arena.

Like Karic, McIntosh is the playmaker. He leads the NPSL in assists with 29. Like Marinaro, Sloan is the finisher, the scorer. He leads the Spirit with 22 goals.

"Kevin runs off Franklin real well," said Spirit coach Dave MacWilliams. "Kevin has a way of finding open space, a seam, a hole, and Franklin knows how to get the ball to him. It's hard to teach that."

When he watches McIntosh mesh with Sloan, MacWilliams is reminded of the "great understanding" he had with Joey Fink when they played for the Blast in the mid-1980s. MacWilliams was the playmaker of that duo.

The McIntosh-Sloan combination is not something that was formed by design. MacWilliams never said: Hey, let's work on it. It just happened.

"I like to pass and Sloanie likes to run, find open space and shoot," McIntosh said. "He has tremendous energy. He knows that even if I'm not looking at that spot, I'll get him the ball.

"The first nine, 10 games, Sloanie's shots weren't going in. He was hitting the post. Now they are, and it has given him confidence. We're just clicking."

Sloan, an Oakland Mills High grad who set a Spirit record with 50 two-point goals last season, considered McIntosh a godsend when he arrived in a trade with Harrisburg last December. McIntosh, he knew, was one of indoor soccer's great playmakers.

"He'll find anyone with his passes," Sloan said.

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7:35

Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WASA (1330 AM)

Outlook: The teams have split two games, both winning at home. The Spirit, second in the NPSL's American Division, has won three straight. Fourth-place Harrisburg has dropped its past two. Joe Mallia will start in place of flu-ridden Cris Vaccaro in goal for the Spirit. Dave Vaudreuil (strained stomach muscle) and Bobby Joe Esposito (strained hip flexor) are questionable. Domenic Mobilio, with 54 points, leads Harrisburg is scoring and is No. 6 in the NPSL.

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