With the 2002-03 Major Indoor Soccer League season less than one month away, the Blast hopes it has added mightily to its offense yesterday with the signing of former league Most Valuable Player Gino DiFlorio.
The 37-year-old forward has played 18 professional indoor seasons, the past four with the Harrisburg Heat. He comes to his sixth team with a strong resume: 1,601 career points, eight all-star appearances, and the 2000-01 MVP season in which he compiled 142 points in 35 games.
He also comes to Baltimore with one big question: How's the knee?
Three games into last season, DiFlorio tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, which resulted in successful surgery in December and an end to the campaign.
Blast coach/general manager Kevin Healey is confident he found the answer yesterday morning, when DiFlorio passed a physical at Towson Sports Medicine before his free-agent signing.
"His health is very good. The physical reported back that his knee was very strong," said Healey, who also got a look at DiFlorio at a June workout.
A healthy DiFlorio, who began his career with the Cleveland Force of the old MISL back in 1984, would add to a potent offense that already features midfielders Paul Wright, Denison Cabral, Danny Kelly and target forward Tarik Walker.
Healey is just as confident that DiFlorio will fit in just fine at the second forward position.
"What I've always said with Gino is, first, he puts points on the board with a dynamic left foot. He's also an extremely gifted passer and moves very well off the ball. He also fits in from the community aspect - he's a good guy," said Healey.
The Blast, which started training camp late last week, will open its season on Oct. 5 against the Cleveland Force at the Baltimore Arena.