Backup Baltimore Blast goalkeeper Hank Henry showed his youthful exuberance yesterday when he said, "I'm thinking about the playoff money."
Henry, 26, never has made much more than $20,000 for playing a season in the Major Soccer League. He rents a room from teammates Domenic Mobilio and Joe Barger, who recently bought a home in the Towson area.
Money -- every bit of it -- is important to Henry.
But the Blast veterans scoffed at the mention of money as an incentive to make the MSL playoffs.
"We get some playoff money," said Blast defender Mike Reynolds. "But it is so minimal that it's not even worth mentioning. If that's all anybody's playing for, it's not the right reason. The pride of being a champion means much more than that little bit of money."
L Reynolds is right when he calls the playoff money "minimal."
If the Blast went to the MSL championship, each player on the team would receive only approximately $3,335.
Second place would bring in only $2,900 per player.
Advancing past the first round would guarantee each player approximately $1,800, and being eliminated in the first round would bring in $665 a player.
Even second-year Blast midfielder David Vaudreuil said the playoff money was weak.
"Getting $665 for making the playoffs is not much motivation," said Vaudreuil. "To me, being a fairly new player who was hurt last year and missed the playoffs, it's more important to help get the team over the final hump and into the playoffs."
The third-place Blast (20-30) leads the fourth-place Wichita Wings (19-31) by one game with two left in the battle for the final MSL Eastern Division playoff berth entering tonight's 8:05 game against the Dallas Sidekicks at the Baltimore Arena.
Wichita meets the first-place Cleveland Crunch tonight at 8:35 in Wichita. A Baltimore win and a Wichita loss would clinch a playoff spot for the Blast.
Baltimore finishes its season tomorrow night against Cleveland at Richfield Coliseum, and Wichita completes its regular-season Sunday at 3:35 with a game against the St. Louis Storm in Wichita.
Baltimore has to finish ahead of the Wings because Wichita won the season series, 5-3.
NOTES: MF Tim Wittman tried to practice yesterday but said it was like "playing on one leg."
Wittman (sore left knee) will miss the final two games of the regular season and attempt to come back next Friday night if the Blast makes the playoffs.
"I couldn't press off on my left leg and couldn't make sharp turns," said Wittman.
It's Fan Appreciation Night tonight in the final regular-season home game, with the featured attraction being the "Famous Chicken," Ted Giannoulas, formerly known as the San Diego Chicken.
MSL payoffs to 1991 playoff teams
Approximate figures from total playoff pool of $200,000, based on last year's playoff pool of $180,000:
Championship team $60,000 ($3,335 per player)
Second-place team $52,000 ($2,900 per player)
Two division runners-up $32,000 per team ($1,800 per player)
Two first-round losers $12,000 per team ($665 per player)
MSL payoffs to 1990 playoff teams
Championship team, San Diego $55,000 ($3,055 per player)
Second-place team, Baltimore $50,000 ($2,800 per player)
Two division runners-up, Kansas City in East $25,000 ($1,400 per player)
Dallas in West $30,000* ($1,665 per player)
Two first-round losers, Wichita in East $10,000 ($555 per player)
St. Louis in West ($555 per player)
* Dallas received $5,000 more than Kansas City last year because the Sidekicks won the regular-season Western division title.