Just last week, Chris Reif was reading meters for the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and playing in a 30-and-over indoor soccer league in Baltimore.
Reif, 25, was allowed to play in the league because each team could have one player younger than 30.
It was an ordinary lifestyle, but Reif was content as he turned off nTC the lights and got ready to go to bed last Tuesday night at his Baltimore home.
However, the telephone rang. It was Baltimore Blast coach Kenny Cooper offering him a 15-day contract.
But wait a minute. Who was going to read the meters?
"I had to use some of my vacation time to get off," said Reif, who then flew to San Diego to join the Blast for Saturday night's game against the champion Sockers.
Reif, a defender, didn't even get a chance to practice with the Blast Friday but he made one of the most dramatic debuts in the history of the league.
Reif started for the Blast, played a regular shift and scored a goal on the first shot he took in the MSL. It tied the game at 2 in the third quarter.
It would be hard for anybody to top that act for sheer drama, even though the Blast went on to lose, 6-4. It was the fifth straight loss overall and ninth in a row on the road.
"It was pretty exciting to go in the first game and play that much and score," said Reif yesterday from Tacoma where the Blast will meet the Stars tonight at 10:35. "But I can't say it was unexpected for me to play a lot. He [Cooper] told me what my role would be when he called Tuesday night."
Due to injuries to defenders Angelo Panzetta and Mike Reynolds and midfielders Tim Wittman and Joe Barger, Cooper has frantically tried to find help through trades and the MSL draft.
But the Blast coach has come up empty handed at every turn. Two separate deals that would have sent Richard Chinapoo to the Dallas Sidekicks fell through.
Cooper also tried to bring in the team's No. 1 draft pick, defender Kris Kelderman of the University of Virginia, for the rest of the season. But Kelderman couldn't get clearance from his academic adviser.
There also was an attempt to sign former U.S. national team captain Mike Windischmann, a defender, a couple of weeks ago. But a knee injury prevented the deal from being completed.
Cooper said Reif would start again tonight.
"He's a solid player who has experience at the indoor game and has watched us play enough to know our system," said Cooper.
Reif said it was a lot easier sitting in the stands and watching the Blast play than it was actually being out there.
"There are a lot of technical aspects of the game you don't even realize when you're watching," he said. "And the game is physically demanding. But I don't feel any pressure because I have my regular job. I'm just trying to help out as much as possible right now."
Cooper has left the door open for Reif to come back next year and try to make the team on a full-time basis.
NOTES: Rookie Chris Haywood has the latest injury in a season of seemingly endless injuries.
Haywood, the team's No. 1 draft pick, has a turf toe and there is some concern it may be broken. Haywood didn't play against San Diego and most likely won't play tonight.