Kevin Sloan was one of the most productive scorers in the American Professional Soccer League this season with the Maryland Bays. Now, he is trying to convince the Blast he can do the same job indoors.
"At this point in my career, I want to play full time," said the 25-year-old. "I had a very good outdoor season. I have a lot of confidence. And I thought this year might be the year for me to try the Major Soccer League, so when Kenny [Cooper] called and sent a letter inviting me, I decided to come in."
Sloan has taken a week's leave of absence from the Leaman Co., a food broker in Columbia, where he is in sales. Cooper, the Blast coach, has promised to let Sloan and his fellow Bays teammate, goalkeeper Steve Powers, know where they stand by Saturday. Powers is also on a week's leave from his marketing job with the Bays.
Sloan took an elbow to his right cheek during practice this week, but came up smiling.
"A little initiation," he said. "I know some of the guys out here. I have a certain amount of confidence and I don't feel like a rookie. I know I can play and I'm comfortable. But Joe [Koziol, who hit him with the elbow] is probably the only guy I'd let get away with this."
Sloan is not unfamiliar with the MSL, though he has limited experience. He was drafted by Chicago in 1988.
"They went defunct and I went to Cleveland," Sloan said. "Cleveland went defunct and I went to the [American Indoor Soccer Association] Dayton Dynamos. But Dayton left a bad taste in my mouth. They traveled everywhere by bus. There were 10-hour bus rides, not that much money and an atmosphere in Dayton I didn't care for. I didn't want to pursue it."
Three years later, after overcoming a lingering hip-flexor injury, and after a season with the Bays that could make the APSL highlight film, Sloan feels differently.
"With the Bays this season, I felt I was needed to help score," said Sloan, who was second to Bays teammate Jean Harbor in league scoring with 14 goals, four assists for 32 points. "Once I felt comfortable, I got some confidence and once you get confidence, it kind of feeds on itself."
Sloan believes he has the physical attributes to play well indoors. He is quick, rugged and a good ball handler.
"I think I have the ability to play any position out there except goalie," he said. "I'll do whatever I can to help this club, if they want me. Right now, I think it is too early to tell where they might want to put me."
The Blast officially announced the signing of former San Diego Socker Waad Hirmez yesterday . . . Forward Jeff Kraft, who attended Calvert Hall, left camp because of illness in the family; Robbie Noggler returned to his native Australia, saying the caliber of competition was too great; Bays player John Abe decided to pursue indoor soccer in Harrisburg, Pa., with coach Jim Pollihan in the National Professional Soccer League.
Cooper made the team's first cuts yesterday, releasing last season's fourth-round draft choice, Chris Simon (F), and this season's third-round pick, Gary Cronin (D). Also cut were: Steve Lorenzet (MF), Steve Nichols (D), Mark Thomas (F), Clark Brisson (F), Raj Wakhale (GK) and Steve Boardman (D).
The Blast has 23 players in camp, counting Hirmez, who will arrive tomorrow, and Domenic Mobilio, who will arrive Oct. 8, after the Canadian Soccer League playoffs.