Seldom has a Baltimore Blast player received as much buildup before playing a game as Jean Harbor has.
But Harbor comes to the team as a storied outdoors player frothe Maryland Bays, and Blast coach Kenny Cooper said yesterday, "There is no question he could develop into a special player."
In the past, Cooper has reserved the word "special" for the likeof Stan Stamenkovic, Steve Zungul, Branko Segota and Brian Quinn.
One thing already special about Harbor is that he will be the firsBlast player to wear No. 99.
Harbor said the number was Blast vice president of socceoperations Drew Forrester's idea.
Forrester said: "I told Jean, 'I know you were No. 9 with the Baysbut we already have a No. 9 [Doug Miller].' I said, 'How about wearing No. 99? It will be neat. We've never had a No. 99 before.' "
Forrester, an NHL fan, denied that the idea of wearing No. 9had anything to do with Wayne Gretzky's wearing it for the Los Angeles Kings.
"It never came up," said Forrester.
Still, some of Harbor's teammates have been ribbing him aboubeing "The Great One."
Cooper still was cautious yesterday, when Harbor completed a final full-scale workout for his Major Soccer League debut tomorrow against the Cleveland Crunch at 1:05 p.m. in Richfield, Ohio.
"He's had only two practices indoors," Cooper said. "It's indoofitness and a different kind of endurance from outdoors."
L Harbor will back up Domenic Mobilio and Rod Castro at target.
"We'll see how things go," Cooper said. "Jean has great touch and vision, but he needs to learn how to use the boards and get a general feel for the game."
Harbor said he would be satisfied with whatever plans Cooper has for him today.
"He's a genius on things like that," Harbor said. "The hardesthing for me to adjust to is keeping up with my man. I'm used to being an offensive player outdoors. Also right now, the conditioning is tough indoors because it's harder to breathe."
Harbor will not be able to practice with the team today because he does not get off his job as a chemist in Rockville until 5 p.m. He will travel to Cleveland alone tonight.
NOTE: Miller (right ankle sprain) missed practice and will not play tomorrow.