Goalkeeper Scott Manning arrived at Myers Pavilion yesterday expecting to test his sprained left ankle for a possible return to action tomorrow night against the Dallas Sidekicks at the Baltimore Arena.
But to Manning's surprise, there was no Baltimore Blast workout yesterday.
Instead, Blast coach Kenny Cooper conducted a 3 1/2 -hour film session and meeting that had to go down as one of the longest in the 11-year history of the franchise.
"When we don't win, we're going to work," said Cooper after the meeting. "You can't reward the players with a day off when you're losing. I've always said I only ask the players to work half a day, I don't care which 12 hours it is."
The Blast (4-5) not only has a losing record, but it also is in last place in the Eastern Division of the Major Soccer League. Baltimore is four games behind the first-place Kansas City Comets (7-1) in the loss column.
"I told the players that we're going to do whatever it takes to win, even if it's two-a-day workouts," said Cooper. "The easiest thing to do is to take a day off. I never seen anyone die from hard work."
Long after most of the players had left yesterday, Cooper still was in the room going over some game tactics with forward Dale Mitchell.
Mitchell was shut out in Saturday night's 5-4 overtime loss to the Tacoma Stars and still is not in synch with his Blast teammates after four seasons with the Kansas City Comets.
"Dale's strength is at the edge of the [penalty] box, and we're not getting the ball to him there," said Cooper."
In regard to Manning returning tomorrow night after missing eight games, Cooper said: "I'm not prepared to say at this time. The doctors have told me not to rush him. I'll see how things go tomorrow [today] when he works out."
Blast trainer Marty McGinty said yesterday that Manning's ankle is sound enough to play on "but he needs to get in the goal and take some shots and move laterally. Four weeks is a long time to be out."
Manning, obviously disappointed by not having a chance to work out yesterday, said, "I don't see how I can play on one day's practice. Obviously Kenny [Cooper] felt there were more important things to do today [yesterday]. I guess it's not a priority to get me back on the field."