For many years, it looked as if there never would be a challenge match between the Baltimore Blast and the Maryland Bays.
The Bays wanted it, and soccer fans enjoyed speculating abouthe outcome of such a game.
But Blast coach Kenny Cooper wanted no part of it. He oftesaid his team could only be the loser because everybody expected the Blast to win even if the game was played outdoors.
Cooper also worried about injuries to his players.
But Cooper has relented, and the game will be played in May oearly June, depending on when the Blast finishes its season.
Cooper and the Blast have agreed to play the Bays, thdefending American Professional Soccer League champions, in an outdoor game.
"All we need is a date and a site," said former Bays coach PetCaringi, who is in charge of coordinating the game. "Cedar Lane Park [the Bays' home field] is a possible site, but we're not sure if 5,000 seats would be enough. We could play it at RFK Stadium, but we want to keep the game close to Baltimore."
Caringi said Blast and Bays officials will meet this week in aattempt to choose a site and discuss a date.
"In my opinion, it's great for the soccer fans in Baltimore for twclass organizations to be meeting in a friendly game," said Caringi, who was given the task of setting up the game by Bays owner John Liparini.
Cooper said he has consented to play the game because "I'm foanything that promotes soccer and helps soccer in the city. If it [the game] keeps the people excited about soccer, that's great."
The Blast's acceptance of an outdoor match against the Baymakes it the first Major Soccer League team to make final plans for outdoor play this summer.
The Kansas City Comets and the St. Louis Storm also arexpected to announce outdoor play soon.
* Blast midfielder Joe Barger and defender Chris Reif played for the Bays last summer and are expected to play for the Bays again this season.
Which team Barger and Reif will play for in the one-gam #F challenge match is uncertain.
Reif was impressive during a five-game stint (15-day contract) with the Blast and could be signed for a second 15-day contract in the MSL playoffs if the Blast is hit with more injuries and wants to put three players on the disabled list.
But tomorrow morning, Reif said, he will be reporting to hiregular job as a meter reader in the Parole section of Annapolis.
"It's been fun," he said. "It was a great thing for me to doHopefully, I was able to help the team make the playoffs. I really can't say I want to come back for the playoffs because that would mean somebody would be getting hurt, and I don't wish that on anyone."
Cooper said, "Chris Reif is a real good kid. He was thrown intthe deep end [he started against the San Diego Sockers in his first game in the league] and helped us. It was kind of refreshing to see the honesty and enthusiasm he brought to the game."
"Chris can express himself better at midfield," Cooper said. "think he can be more effective at midfield. We'll do some talking with Chris in the future and would like to have him with us next year."