Each side came with their questions, and when the evening meeting in Columbia was over, the Blast and Maryland Bays forward Jean Harbor were closer to an understanding. Whether that translates into contract terms remains to be seen.
"In 2 1/2 hours we went from not knowing anything about each other to all of us going in the same direction," said Blast vice president Drew Forrester. "I don't want to cast this in the wrong light. But I think we're a lot closer to having an agreement than to not having one."
Harbor did not return messages left on his answering machine last night.
With a 1-4 record marked by a lack of scoring, Blast coach Kenny Cooper said he feels the team has to make a move to generate some offense.
"We had two names on our list," Cooper said. "Kai Haaskivi, who is a top player in the league, and Jean Harbor, who has untapped potential. We've also been having conversations about trades and we'll continue to have conversations about trades. By Saturday, a number of other teams may find themselves in our position and be willing to shake up their lineups. At this point, Dallas [4-0] may be the only team whose roster is set."
Yesterday, All-Star midfielder Haaskivi informed the Blast he was staying in Cleveland, perhaps rejoining the Crunch.
"I told Kenny, I couldn't guarantee my durability and that I'm staying home," said Haaskivi, who has lived in the Cleveland area since 1982. "He said he'd leave the door open 'til Saturday -- and leave the light on. But he knows that while my heart is willing, I'm too unsure about being able to do the job he needs to have done to make the commitment."
The Blast would like to reach an agreement with Harbor by Saturday, when the defending champion San Diego Sockers come to town. But Forrester pointed out, there is some flexibility beyond the team's sixth game. Veterans' contracts become guaranteed after the sixth game, the contracts of first-year players are not solidified until the 12th game.
Both Cooper and Forrester said no decisions have been made on what player or players would have to be cut to add Harbor or on who might be available for a trade.
"When we sit down and put it all together," Forrester said, "the bottom line is that whether it is one move or more than one, it has got to be the best of all the tangible moves."