The Blast is in contact with every team in the Major Soccer League trying to work a trade. The Blast is trying to sign American Professional Soccer League MVP Jean Harbor. The Blast is trying to soothe egos bruised by the outspokenness of midfielder Waad Hirmez. The Blast is trying everything within its power to get its 1-4 season untracked.
"Do you realize it will take us until Nov. 30 to reach .500?" said Blast midfielder Billy Ronson. "It's going to take us three games just to get back to even."
They'll try to take the first step tomorrow when the Blast plays San Diego here at 7:35 p.m (WCAO-AM 600).
So far, trade talks have gone nowhere and Harbor seems closer to not signing than signing.
Last night, Harbor's brother Jones, who is acting as his agent, told Blast vice president Drew Forrester he did not think Jean Harbor could accept the contract offer as is. Sources close to the Blast speculated the team offered a six-month contract worth approximately $24,000.
"There is no more room to negotiate," said Forrester, who had no comment on the specifics of the contract. "Based on what we have, we gave him every dime we have. We have X dollars and I've offered him every one we've got. I just don't have any more. If Jean can't accept it, we'll move on. Maybe next time, the third try, will be the charm."
Meanwhile, Hirmez said he has a much better understanding of how things work with the Blast and is willing to try to change his ways.
"I wasn't aware how things were here," said Hirmez. "I have a full picture now. Maybe I was naive. Obviously, things are completely different from where I came from, even down to the very, very little things. I have to adjust my ways or be somewhere else.
"I was vocal and it didn't work," he said. "When I came, I was told to express myself, but maybe I did too much. When guys were vocal with me in San Diego and L.A., I didn't take it personally. Here it's different. I have to be careful about what I say and do. It's an adjustment I have to make to keep my commitment to helping this team be a success and I am committed to doing that."
Whether he gets the chance may depend on what the Blast has to give up to get another scorer. It's no secret a number of MSL teams are willing to talk trade, as long as they get one of the Blast's top players.
"I am aware you've got to give up something to get something," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper. "No matter who we add, whether it's Harbor or someone else, someone is going to have to go and the two areas where we can best afford to lose someone is at defender and midfield."
Hirmez said he would be prepared to leave if that "would solve the Blast's problems." But if the Blast had any thoughts of trading him to his former team, San Diego coach Ron Newman said last night, "I don't intend to do anything with my roster now. I'm happy with what I've got started here and I want to give it a chance to work."
Newman said he is waiting to see how several of his young players develop in the absence of midfielder Brian Quinn, who will spend parts of the next couple weeks with the U.S. National Team. "If they don't work out, then my interest in Waady might pick up," Newman said.
Cooper tried to prepare his team for Hirmez before he arrived last September. Everyone was told the former San Diego Socker was boisterous and a showman. The problems started, however, when Hirmez, who is playing himself into condition, started pointing out other players' failings.
In San Diego, where all the players' egos were strong enough to allow such rantings to roll off their shoulders, Hirmez's criticisms were no big deal. Everyone simply yelled back.
Here, egos are not so well developed. Many players, with good reputations, are trying to make their first real impact on the game. Here, when Hirmez yells, some players get nervous and other, more experienced players get protective.
"Waad's a nice fellow," said Ronson. "I understand when you've been somewhere as long as he has -- he has six championship rings -- you get used to doing things your way. But it winds some people up and even though he doesn't mean to drive wedges in, he does. It makes you worry. Around here, we've never openly criticized anybody, because we all make mistakes. When we lose, the team loses, not individuals.
"But I think he didn't understand how we do things here. The last three days he's been completely different. I think if he gets in shape and wants to do things the 'Blast's Way,' then I think we're all ready to give him a chance. But he's got to stick with it. You know Kenny. We've seen in the past, it doesn't matter who you are, you're out of here once you get off the track."
Defender David Eise, who had a run-in with Hirmez after the 5-4 loss in Tacoma last Friday, also seemed forgiving.
"I think everyone takes things differently as a person," said Eise. "We just have to be a little more thick-skinned. Waad tried to be constructive, but some players take it differently. But it's nothing we can't work out."
Hirmez, who is used to playing for a team that has started slow in the past and even finished the regular season below .500 and won championships, illustrated how much the message has sunk in.
"We've got 35 games to go," he said. "If we can win 25 of them, I think 25-14 can win the regular season."
Hirmez's thought made Ronson smile.
"That's the mentality we need," he said. "All we've got to do is go out there and win and everything else will take care of itself."