Bruce Savage, one of the most popular players in the history of the Baltimore Blast, apparently has played his last game for the team.
Baltimore coach Kenny Cooper said yesterday that Savage told him last week to go ahead and put together the team without him. He told Cooper that at this point in his career, he thought it best to concentrate on playing for the U.S. national team.
Savage, voted Blast Player of the Decade by the fans last year, is thought to be close to signing a full-time contract with the U.S. national team as it prepares for the 1994 World Cup, which will be played in the United States.
Savage, 30, started and played the entire games earlier this month against Uruguay and Argentina in the World Series of Soccer, and he is expected to start again Saturday against Ireland in Boston in Game 6 of the series.
Savage was on his way to Boston yesterday and could not be reached for comment.
But the seven-time Major Soccer League All-Star and member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team said earlier this month: "It's a lot of fun playing for the U.S. national team. I'm enjoying being a part of it all."
Savage's wife, Angel, said last night that the prospect of representing the United States in the World Cup was the biggest reason for her husband's decision.
"Bruce is a silent, patriotic type," she said. "Some of his best days were in the Olympics, and this is similar to that. He likes the international aspect of it all, and playing outdoors is different. The bottom line is, he has decided not to retire from playing soccer, and right now he wants to play for the U.S. national team."
Angel Savage didn't rule out the possibility that her husband might return to the Blast.
"He hasn't totally given up on ever playing for the Blast," she said. "His feeling is if it doesn't work out with the U.S. national team, he'll deal with it [playing with Blast] then. He just doesn't want Kenny [Cooper] saving a spot for him on the team if he might not be back."
Cooper said Baltimore's loss is a major gain for the U.S. national team.
"Bruce Savage can play anywhere," said Cooper. "He's a smart player with a great attitude, and he's the All-American type guy who will be perfect for World Cup team. We're losing a super player, but I look at it like he's representing the city of Baltimore."