After 4 years, Cooper gets King to play in Baltimore

October 13, 1992|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

The four-year wait is over: Michael King is in a Baltimore soccer uniform.

bTC King, a veteran of the defunct Major Soccer League, was greeted excitedly by coach Kenny Cooper yesterday at the opening of the Baltimore Spirit's training camp at Myers Pavilion in Brooklyn.

"We had tried to sign him for four years and almost had him," Cooper said. "When a player knows you want him, he seems to play well against you, and that's what he did against the Blast."

King, 29, a native of London, starred for the MSL's Cleveland Crunch, scoring 46, 47 and 23 goals in the past three seasons. He and Rusty Troy will be the target men in the Spirit's offense.

"He's big [6 feet 2, 195 pounds], strong, mobile, durable and can take abuse," Cooper said. "The target man plays with his back to the goal and is someone the players can get the ball to in pressure situations. He makes something happen, passing off or shooting himself."

Cooper said he liked what he saw of King during yesterday's opening workouts. Sixteen players showed up for the morning and afternoon practices that consisted largely of scrimmaging.

"Michael scored some big goals," Cooper said. "A lot is expected of him, but he has the size and power to respond to it. He's hard to defend against and hits a ton with either foot."

On several occasions over the years, Cooper, then the Blast's coach, tried to trade for King or somehow wrest him from Cleveland. It wasn't until this summer, after King returned to England to try out for a team there, that Cooper succeeded.

"I wanted to try my luck in England, knowing if it didn't work out, I had a spot here," King said. "I had an offer from a team over there, but my wife [Leslie] is an American and I had been here 10 years, so we decided to come back."

King's final year in Cleveland was sour. Even before he injured his knee in the MSL playoffs against the Dallas Sidekicks, he had been competing unsuccessfully for playing time with Zoran Karic, who was favored by coach Trevor Dawkins. King's scoring was cut in half.

"The coach and I didn't see eye to eye," King said. "Karic never came off the field, taking all the free kicks and everything."

NOTES: There were four no-shows yesterday. Doug Neely, in California for a wedding Saturday, couldn't get a flight out Sunday night and is due here today. Eric Dade, a student teacher at Virginia Commonwealth, is four weeks shy of his degree, and Spirit vice president Drew Forrester isn't sure when he'll report. Jeff Kraft was ill. Charlie Rafael participated in the morning workout but had to return in the afternoon to his job in Washington with a copier manufacturer. . . . The Spirit probably won't make any cuts until Friday, which the club drolly calls "Modification Day." . . . Cooper will conduct two-a-day workouts most days until the National Professional Soccer League's 13-team, preseason round-robin tournament Oct. 23-25 in Dayton, Ohio.

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