The prospects of Maryland Bays forward Jean Harbor wearing a Blast uniform ended yesterday, when the American Professional Soccer League's MVP failed to appear for the first day of what was supposed to be a five-day tryout.
Harbor and the Blast had negotiated for a week over the conditions that would bring Harbor to camp, but in the end a basic disagreement over principle finds the two parties going in different directions.
Blast coach Kenny Cooper expressed both disappointment and relief that the situation has been resolved.
"We were all looking forward to seeing Jean play indoors," Cooper said. "He is a name player coming off a great outdoor season and we felt, if he adjusted indoors, he would have helped us. But at the same time, it has been a distraction and we've only got two weeks before the season starts. It's something of a relief to know we can start to finalize our roster."
The Blast arranged a special practice session last Saturday, when Harbor was initially expected to arrive for a workout, only to be disappointed, when he came only to talk. Yesterday, he not only didn't show up, he did not call to tell the team of his decision not to play.
"They were expecting Jean to sacrifice a whole lot and they were not willing to compromise," said Harbor's brother Jonas, who represented Harbor in the talks. "Jean has a good job. They know that, but they were not willing to guarantee the pay he would miss from a week at work. We were not asking the money up front, no one would do that. But it was the principle. We know Jean would make the team. He simply wanted them to show how serious they were about him, by agreeing to the arrangement."
The Blast, however, does not make such guarantees for anyone, pointing out that Bays player Kevin Sloan followed the team rules, made the team and will now be reimbursed for missed employment. Cooper and Blast vice president Drew Forrester said they were not in position to make exceptions.
"Everyone follows the same rules," Cooper said. "It is the only fair way."
Jonas Harbor also said it was a discussion of those rules by Blast management with the media Saturday that finalized their decision.
"They specifically asked us in the meeting Saturday not to discuss finances with the media," Jonas said last night. "But they then discussed exactly that. I said to Jean, 'This is not going to work.' Drew called me Sunday night and I told him we would let them know Monday, after Jean had talked to his employers, but we felt we should have been told that they had talked finances before reading it in Sunday's newspaper. I told Jean, 'Just let it [the call back to the Blast] slide.' "
Despite that, Cooper said the Blast is only closing this chapter on Harbor, not the book.
"I guess you could say we've been stood up twice," Cooper said. "Only my wife, before we were married, ever did that and I ended up marrying her. So who knows what the future holds for Jean and the Blast."