It's bad enough to have to contend with one disgruntled ex-teammate. The Spirit will have to contend with two.
When the Cincinnati Silverbacks visit the Baltimore Arena on Saturday night, they will have three former Spirit players. Two left Baltimore with their relationships with the team strained.
Franklin McIntosh, the Spirit scoring leader last season, didn't return this year after a clash with player-coach Mike Stankovic late last season over missing a key practice.
Brad Smith was released by the Spirit two weeks ago. The third ex-Spirit player, Rob Ukrop, left the Spirit of his own volition after the 1993-94 season.
All three are off to strong starts. McIntosh had 12 points, including the game-winning goal, in the 24-22 overtime victory over the Columbus Invaders and is No. 2 in the National Professional Soccer League scoring race with 26 points in five games.
Ukrop is Cincinnati's fourth-leading scorer (seven points), and Smith, in two games, is sixth with five.
If the shoe fits
Cleveland Crunch forward Zoran Karic found himself in a pickle before Sunday's home game against the Silverbacks when he realized he had locked his game shoes in his locker at the team's practice facility 15 miles away.
None of his teammates' shoes fit, so he borrowed a ballboy's. Karic had a pair of three-point goals, a one-pointer and an assist. The ballboy worked the game in his stocking feet.
Stankovic turns 40
Stankovic, the NPSL's oldest player, celebrated his 40th birthday yesterday in mundane fashion, by conducting practice. Assistant coach Cris Vaccaro marked the occasion by bringing him a bottle of champagne.
Stankovic, who last year became the oldest player in league history to score 100 points (104), leads the Spirit with 11 points in five games this season.
'Victor was Victor'
After earning the NPSL Player of the Week salute for the sixth time in five seasons in recognition of his play in an 8-6 win over the Buffalo Blizzard, Milwaukee Wave goalie Victor Nogueira received a glowing endorsement.
"Victor was Victor," said Buffalo coach Gary Hindley, "which means he was outstanding. We had a shot advantage [33-23] and really took the play to them, but Victor made big saves time after time."
Nogueira, 37, who last season shared the NPSL Most Valuable Player award with Cleveland's Hector Marinaro, saved 19 of 22 shots in lowering his league-best points-against average to 8.83.
Twenty-five days into the season, defending champion Cleveland is the lone unbeaten team (4-0). Winless are the Tampa Bay Terror (0-5), Buffalo (0-4) and Columbus (0-3). Cleveland, Milwaukee and the St. Louis Ambush are averaging more than 10,000 in home attendance; 10 of the league's 15 teams are over 5,000. The Spirit is ninth with 5,591. The Edmonton Drillers (formerly Chicago Power) have sold nearly 10,000 tickets for their home opener Saturday.
Pub Date: 11/12/96