Training camp opens tomorrow, and the Maryland Bays can't wait.
"It has been a long winter," said Bays goalkeeper Steve Powers. "You can only look at the films of last season's championship so many times. We're very anxious to get back on the practice field and begin the process of repeating.
"Having a new coach is going to add some flair. I think everyone is looking forward to the experience."
Yesterday the team introduced new coach Gary Hindley and announced the signing of U.S. National Team player Bruce Murray.
Hindley replaces Pete Caringi, who accepted the head coaching job at UMBC after leading the Bays to the American Professional Soccer League championship last season.
Hindley comes from the Orlando Lions, where he compiled a 17-23 record in two years and narrowly missed the playoffs both seasons. He was asked about the pressure of taking over a defending champion.
"I don't think it is necessary to invent the wheel again here," Hindley said. "My feeling is that I hope to put these players in an atmosphere where they've been successful and can be successful again.
"I don't think I'll be making a lot of moves. If there is room to make an addition, we will, but we won't be changing just for the sake of change."
The biggest task facing Hindley will be sorting out a roster that reads like a Who's Who of soccer.
On the Bays roster are forward Phillip Gyau, currently playing for a first division team in Belgium; forward Omid Namazi, playing in Chile; and defender Desmond Armstrong, who is in Brazil, playing for Santos. And now Murray joins that list.
Murray, a Germantown native, and Armstrong, a Columbia native, played in the World Cup last year and have contracts with the U.S. National Team.
Other names familiar to area soccer fans include defender Darryl Gee and midfielder John Abe, former Loyola College standouts Sam Mangione and Jeff Nattans, and current and former Blast players Joe Barger, Chris Reif and Bob Ryerson.
"The way I'm approaching it is I'm working with the Bays roster and any player on that roster from last season who wants to play has the opportunity to play," Hindley said. "Then I want to look at some former members of the Washington Stars who are in the area. The hardest thing I'll have to do is pare it down to the final 18 or 20. It certainly won't be like Orlando where we had to bring players in."