The Baltimore Blast released goalkeeper Scoop Stanisic yesterday and signed Hank Henry to a one-year contract as a backup for the injured Scott Manning, who will be out at least another week.
Henry, 25, will start in goal tonight against the six-time Major Soccer League champion San Diego Sockers (1-5) at the Baltimore Arena at 8:05.
Henry, a former Dallas Sidekicks backup, arrived in Baltimore late Wednesday night from his home in Anaheim, Calif. He had worked out six times with the Sockers in hopes of catching on as a backup to Victor Nogueira.
"I was basically going to the beach a lot and looking for some kind of job when Kenny [Cooper, Blast coach] called," said Henry, who was signed after a one-day tryout yesterday. "This is the opportunity of a lifetime for me. It's an honor to be here because Kenny Cooper was an idol of mine when I was a little tyke. I grew up in Dallas and watched him play for the Dallas Tornado for five years. I was only 8 years old then and asked him for his autograph. I still have it someplace at home."
The release of Stanisic, 27, yesterday came just one day before Baltimore (2-3) would have been obligated to pay his salary for the entire season if he still were on the roster.
Stanisic is in his fifth year in the league (more than a season with the Blast), and all players with four or more years in the MSL receive their full year's pay if they make it through the sixth game of the season. The game tonight is Baltimore's sixth.
Stanisic, who seemed to be fighting back tears when he left Cooper's office after being informed of his release, did not knock Cooper or the team.
After a 6-5 loss to the Kansas City Comets Saturday night, Cooper said Stanisic was vulnerable from long range and wasn't providing enough leadership in the goal. The coach immediately began a search for a replacement that went through U.S. National team goalie Tony Meola and three others before ending with Henry.
"It was out of my control," said Stanisic. "I don't get upset about things that are out of my control. I have no more quotes. See you around."
Other MSL teams have 72 hours to claim Stanisic off the waiver list before he becomes a free agent.
Henry, who played in four games in two seasons for Dallas and shut out the Wichita Wings, 3-0, Nov. 17, 1989, said he never has had any trouble talking in the goal.
"When I was young, I had a goalkeeper coach who told me I should be hoarse after a game," he said. "I followed that advice."