Scott Manning, four-time Major Soccer League All-Star goalkeeper, appears to be the leading candidate to replace Zoltan Toth in the nets for the St. Louis Storm.
Manning, who was not re-signed by the Baltimore Blast last summer after nine seasons with the team, was contacted by Storm coach Don Popovic last week after Toth announced he was retiring because of several injuries over the past year.
Toth, 31, has undergone left knee surgery for ligament damage, had a pinched nerve in his neck and broken ribs in the past 12 months.
Storm public relations director Brian Gravette said last night that Popovic has said he will sign either Manning, 34, or former Kansas City Comets backup goalkeeper Jim Gorsek, 36, by tomorrow if Toth is final about his retirement plans.
"Zoltan is on our roster until Wednesday [tomorrow]," said Gravette. "We haven't officially done anything with him. The possibility is still there that he could change his mind."
Manning's attorney, Ron Blavatt, said last night that the St. Louis players have told Popovic they believe he should sign Manning.
Blavatt said: "Other than in the eyes of the Blast, Scott's the No. 1 goalkeeper around. In order to bring Scott to St. Louis, it would entail more [money and other concessions] than Gorsek. His demands wouldn't be as much."
According to Blavatt, it will "come down to whether St. Louis can fit Scott in their salary cap and whether Popovic will be willing to allow Scott to continue his off-field activities in Baltimore during the off-season. Scott wants to continue the foundation he started here."
Manning has a home in Baltimore, is the assistant soccer coach at Loyola College, is taking classes at Loyola and is active in the community.
Manning had an 8-0 playoff record in 1984, when the Blast won its only MSL championship.