Blast coach Kenny Cooper cut three free agents from his training camp roster yesterday and rejoiced in the knowledge all-star forward Dale Mitchell will be coming to camp after all.
Mitchell's appeal to be made a free agent was denied by professional arbitrator George Nicolau Friday afternoon. With that decision, Nicolau finalized the trade that had sent Blast midfielder Carl Valentine to Kansas City for the high-scoring forward.
"The decision didn't surprise me," Cooper said. "I expected from day one for him to be here. But I'm glad it is settled and when we announced the decision to the team, there were a lot of smiling faces. Everyone knows what Dale can do."
Mitchell and Blast forward Domenic Mobilio are currently playing for the Vancouver 86ers in the Canadian League. They both are expected to arrive in Blast camp around Oct. 10, following the end of the Canadian League's championship series playoff.
In the meantime, Cooper is continuing to condition and assess the talent he already has here.
Yesterday, he cut free agents Noel Healy, a defender; and forwards Papee James and Bora Petric.
Third-round draft choice Eddie Park, a forward from Carnegie-Mellon University, also will be missing from practice this week. Park decided the Major Soccer League is not him and returned to his home in Fort Wayne, Ind., where he has a full-time job waiting.
"There are a lot of good attitudes among the players in this camp," Cooper said. "We're going to work on more conditioning this week. We'll do the aerobic run and Federal Hill [run] and we'll do more speed testing. From what I've seen, this will be the fastest team we've had."
Cooper also said he let the veterans know it is not just the free agents and rookies who are under scrutiny during this training camp.
"We're going to have some difficult decisions to make," Cooper said. "The draft choices are doing well and it may well be that we'll have to make a move with a veteran player to get them onto the roster."
A move with a veteran translates into cutting him or trading him for future considerations.