The Baltimore Spirit is expected to announce the signing of several former Blast players and officially display its team logo at an afternoon news conference today.
Late yesterday, two former Blast players -- forward Rusty Troy and midfielder Joe Koziol -- both said they hoped to be at the news conference, but neither admitted to being signed.
"I feel like I'm trying to make the plane to London," said Koziol's agent, Mike Powers, referring to the last-minute signing of Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien prior to the Redskins leaving for London on Tuesday. "I know the Spirit wants Joe at the news conference, and we're trying to get it done."
Troy, who has been offered a 12-month contract as player and director of community soccer activities, said he is close to agreeing, but that several things still need to be settled.
"I'd like to think I'll be there," said Troy, who was meeting with Spirit officials last night.
The Spirit also is close to a deal with defender Doug Neely, the Blast's unsung hero last season, which could be completed today.
The new logo, which features a cheery ghost reminiscent of the popular 1960s cartoon series "Casper the Friendly Ghost", is designed to make people smile.
"The whole intention is fun," said Spirit vice president Drew Forrester. "The big thing is marketing and entertainment. We want people to come down and simply enjoy themselves. Everyone is thinking of Spirit in the rah, rah sense. We want to think of it in terms of goodwill and having a good time."
And the Spirit, no doubt, also hopes to haunt the rest of the league.
Signing with the Spirit of the National Professional Soccer League is more complicated than working out an agreement in the old Major Soccer League. In the MSL, every player and agent knew what was expected. In the NPSL, rules and expectations are different, and so are team budgets.
"Basically, Drew and I have been trying to figure out our mutual understanding of the NPSL rules and regulations," said Powers. "It's a learning experience for both of us.
"There is a lot more give and take in this league," Powers said. "It's not like players are going to make a million dollars. If you're making that kind of money, a team has a right to expect certain things. But given the situation in this league, more consideration has to be given to the player and his needs. You can't look at them as pro athletes in the sense of pro football or baseball. Athletes in [the NPSL] have to struggle to make it."
Meanwhile, former Blast trainer Marty McGinty, who described his three years with the Blast as a "wonderful and positive experience," has accepted a position with the Sports Medicine Clinic at Union Memorial Hospital.
The Spirit also has made offers to former Blast player Angelo Panzetta, who played with the NPSL's Harrisburg Heat last season, and Kris Kelderman, the Blast's No. 1 draft choice a year ago. Panzetta is waiting to hear what the Heat has to offer before FTC making a decision on the Spirit's offer. Kelderman also is being pursued by the Milwaukee Wave, the most successful team from an economic standpoint in the NPSL.
The Wave's efforts were not appreciated by Forrester, who said he has talked with Wave coach Keith Tozer, informing him that the NPSL considers Kelderman to be Spirit property until it becomes clear an agreement cannot be reached.
But Kelderman said yesterday he is still talking to both teams.
"I've talked to the Milwaukee coach about his plans and the financial end is very appealing," Kelderman said. "Plus, I'm from Wisconsin, so I'd be playing at home. To be frank, I've talked to Drew, and I thought I was worth more than they're [the Spirit] offering. But overall, I'd like to stay here, if we can get some things worked out."