Phillip Gyau, the American Professional Soccer League's MVP of a year ago, officially returned to the Bays yesterday afternoon.
The groans from elsewhere around the league almost could be heard inside the Columbia Inn, where Bays coach Gary Hindley couldn't keep the smile off his face.
The Bays are already 5-0.
They have Jean Harbor, who leads the APSL with 11 points (four goals, three assists). Harbor was honored as the team's Player of the Month yesterday.
The Bays also have Brian Haynes, a forward Hindley brought with him this season from Orlando. And Haynes, among the league's top five scorers, has fit in perfectly.
And now, Hindley has Gyau.
Well, maybe that smile was a grimace. Certainly Hindley will have to be a magician to cram all his talented players onto the field at once.
"It's a dilemma," said Hindley. "But I think Phillip needs to go
back to his natural position at forward."
A year ago, with Harbor and Gyau at the forwards, the Bays set an APSL record with 42 goals and won a national championship to go with Gyau's MVP award.
Yesterday, Gyau admitted some worry over how he could help a team already 5-0 as it heads into tomorrow's game against Miami at Cedar Lane Park.
"I wanted to get back here for the season," said Gyau, who is returning from Belgium, where he played first division soccer for Genk. "But I was injured and I wanted to make sure I was in shape to help. I'm 90 percent now, and I think I can contribute. The question is: how? This is a great team already."
Gyau, whose right leg is slightly longer than his left, suffered hip problems last January and has been rehabing ever since.
"It was so painful, I felt like my insides were coming out every time I ran," he said. "But the kinesiologist in Belgium helped me very much, and now I'm ready. Hopefully, I can do something for the team, but I don't know where I'm going to fit in . . . But I can play a lot of positions -- midfield, up front. Maybe that will make it a little easier to find a place."
It isn't a question that bothers Harbor. He sees only the positives.
"With me, Brian and Phillip in the lineup at the same time, it will be very hard for other teams," said Harbor. "What are they going to do? Who are they going to mark?"
Which returns the question to Hindley, who must determine exactly how Gyau will fit the equation.
"Brian Haynes has the ability to play midfield," said Hindley. "It could be a problem if the talent wasn't there, but in this case we have two people who are capable of playing and they both need to be on the field and I plan to get them on the field."
As luck would have it, Hindley will have an opportunity to find out exactly what works best without costing the team in the standings.
The Bays play a league game with Miami tomorrow, but then have an exhibition match with Brazil Sunday.
"Sunday's game becomes important in experimentation," said Hindley. "It's a free game and I've drawn up different things to try. If they work, great. If not, we won't use them. We'll try something else."
* The June 16 game against Millonarios at RFK Stadium has been designated as Youth Soccer Day. Youth teams interested in taking part in the celebration should call 301-880-0047 in Baltimore or 301-206-2500 in Washington for more information.
* The Bays are leading the APSL's Western Conference with 38 points, while Harbor is No. 1 in scoring in the league with 11 points, four goals, three assists . . . Midfielder Kevin Sloan and forward Brian Haynes are tied for fifth in the APSL scoring race with six points each . . . Goalkeeper Steve Powers ranks third in the goalkeeping stats with 10 saves and a 0.72 goals-against average. San Francisco's Mark Bougherty is first with an 0.24 GAA.
VS. MIAMI FREEDOM
* WHEN: Tomorrow, 7 p.m.
* WHERE: Cedar Run Park.
VS. CATUENSE of BRAZIL
* WHEN: Sunday, 4 p.m.
* WHERE: RFK Stadium.
* OUTLOOK: This should be an interesting match. Miami (1-4) hasn't gotten off to the quickest start this season, but the team is talented and finally broke into the win column last weekend.
The Freedom, which gave the Bays their first loss last seasonwill be strengthened by the addition of San Diego Sockers midfielder Paul Dougherty.
"They've got a lot of experience," said Bays coach Gary Hindley"I think their only problem has been that they aren't used to playing together."
The Bays (5-0) will be without their national team playersdefenders Desmond Armstrong and Jeff Agoos and midfielder Bruce Murray, who will be playing against Juventus of Italy Sunday in New Haven, Conn.
But the Bays have APSL scoring leader Jean Harbor suited uand with the addition of ASL MVP Phillip Gyau, should be even stronger.