The Baltimore Blast placed Waad Hirmez on waivers yesterday for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release.
TC About eight hours after Hirmez was released, Blast vice president of soccer operations Drew Forrester announced the team had reached a contract agreement with Maryland Bays forward Jean Harbor.
Harbor, 26, was introduced to the crowd before last night's Blast-San Diego Sockers game at the Baltimore Arena. Harbor was wearing street clothes when he walked on to the floor and waved to the fans amid a loud ovation.
Harbor is expected to be in uniform for Saturday's game against the Crunch in Cleveland.
Blast coach Kenny Cooper said: "Jean Harbor will look like a Statue of Liberty when we put him in the penalty box. He's a gifted athlete whom I believe can help us win games. We're not putting pressure on him immediately, but we believe he will eventually do the job."
Harbor said: "I'm excited about helping the Baltimore Blast win games. I believe I can help Baltimore win a championship."
Hirmez said Forrester told him yesterday morning of the club's decision.
The release of Hirmez came on the day of the Blast's sixth game and prevented Baltimore from paying him a full season's salary.
Hirmez said: "I could not change my winning personality for a losing personality. If they were blaming the 1-4 record on me, that is not right.
"I think Kenny is possessed by beating San Diego. He puts too much pressure on it and it is hard for some of these players to handle. I think that is partly why this team didn't perform well in the first five games."
Hirmez said part of the Blast's inability to get untracked early was poor preparation.
"We had no system of play," Hirmez said. "What do we play on the road? Do we pressure or sit back? Have you seen us execute one set play? We spend more time practicing the sixth attacker than anything else?
"Why? Are we planning to pull the goalkeeper at the start? We should be worrying about scoring goals and making the other team pull its keeper.
"I was brought in here to make a difference. With two minutes left against Tacoma here, I scored the winning goal. In Wichita I gave us a 2-1 lead. In Tacoma I put us up 3-2. Does it sound like I'm the problem? I blame the start of the season on all of us. On the whole team, because we didn't have the leadership to follow. I'm not the problem."
Hirmez said the Blast fans were the losers in the long run because the Blast is "a one-man show. What Kenny says goes. I'm a winner but they wouldn't listen to me."
Forrester said of the Hirmez release: "It was an organizational decision that was made after careful thought and review. We brought him to Baltimore with good intentions, and I'm sure he came here with the same feelings, but it didn't work out like both of us obviously wished it would."
The rift between Cooper and Hirmez began last week when Cooper said that Hirmez and the Blast were on "different agendas" and that the former San Diego Sockers midfielder was "playing his way into shape."
Hirmez responded by saying there was inconsistency on the Blast and everything depended on "whether we won, lost or how we practiced. We were disciplined for losing the opening game. We're adults and don't need to be punished."