Backup goalkeeper Hank Henry became the latest victim of the Baltimore Blast salary cap crunch yesterday.
Henry, 26, was released on the eve of the opening of training camp after he refused to accept a reduction in his original contract.
"I had a bottom-line figure I wanted to play for this season, and I wouldn't play for anything less," said Henry. "The original contract met that figure, and I was under the impression I would be playing under that contract when I moved all my stuff here from Texas three weeks. They wanted me to take a substantial cut from the original agreement."
Blast vice president of soccer operations Drew Forrester said he didn't know three weeks ago that Henry was going to be asked to take a cut in order for the team to meet the reduced Major Soccer League team salary cap of $550,000.
"We had to go back and re-evaluate our team salary structure," said Forrester. "It's been harder to fit 16 players into $550,000 than we thought. We had to make some cuts, and unfortunately, Hank was one of them. Hank, like Joe Barger, needed a certain amount of money to live on, and we couldn't give him that much."
With the release of Henry, it was thought the Blast was looking to Maryland Bays goalkeeper Steve Powers as a full-time backup.
But Forrester said the Blast has decided to go with one or two young goalkeepers on a developmental roster as insurance for No. 1 goalkeeper Cris Vaccaro, a move that helps them fit easier into the salary cap than paying a fourth-year player like Henry or even Powers on a regular basis.
"We've looked at Cris' background and seen that he can play a lot of games," said Forrester. "We look for him to play 36 of the 40 games, and we'll use the one or two young goalkeepers the other four games."
Henry said: "I'm not happy with the situation. The money situation hasn't changed in three weeks [new salary cap went into effect Aug. 4]. Maybe it's time for me to move on and do something else. It's not like there's a pot of gold at the end in this league. Why struggle when there are no huge rewards?"
NOTES: Powers is 1 of 5 goalkeepers invited to camp to fight for the developmental roster spot. The others are former Loyola College standout Jason Wright, Old Dominion alumnus Joe Mallia, former Hartwick College goalie Raj Wakhale and Richard Alphonso, who lives in Columbia. . . . In addition to Powers, 7 Maryland Bays players have been invited as free agents to Blast training camp. But 4 have declined the invitations, including Jean Harbor, who wants a contract before reporting. The others who won't take part in the Blast camp are Chris Reif (can't afford to leave his job with Baltimore Gas & Electric), Phillip Gyau (also wants a contract) and George Gelnovatch (can't leave job as assistant Virginia soccer coach). The other invited Bays (John Abe, Kevin Sloan and Brian Haynes) are expected at camp next week. . . . There will be 11 players under contract in camp today and 18 free agents are expected, including free agent Robby Noggler, who scored 52 goals in 25 games in indoor play in Australia this past season. A 12th player under contract, Domenic Mobilio, won't be coming to camp until Oct. 7 because he is playing with the Vancouver 86ers in the Canadian Soccer League.