Dallas' Smith couldn't pass up opportunity to play for Spirit

January 15, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

Kevin Smith had just returned home from his first day of work at a Jaguar dealership in Dallas on Monday when his wife, Sally, told him Kenny Cooper had called.

"Probably trying to make contact with a player and needs a phone number," Smith said, suspecting Cooper was looking for a reinforcement for his Baltimore Spirit team.

Cooper was, and the man he was looking for was Kevin Smith.

Smith said yes to Cooper, caught a plane and arrived here in time to collect three assists in the Spirit's 20-12 victory over the St. Louis Ambush Wednesday.

After the team's No. 3 scorer, Michael King, suffered a knee injury that will keep him out for the season, Cooper made a short list. Smith's name was at the top.

"He's comfortable with the ball," Cooper said as he prepared his team for tonight's game against the Rockers in Detroit. "He likes to go find it, like Goran Hunjak. With his skill and vision, we want him to touch the ball."

Smith, 30, a native of England, has played pro soccer for 13 years, the last eight with the Dallas Sidekicks of the now-defunct Major Soccer League. The 5-foot-7, 150-pound midfielder was known as the Sidekicks' quarterback.

"That's my strength, passing," he said. "I'm not going to beat two or three defenders to score. That's not me. I get the ball and then give it."

Since the Sidekicks aren't playing this season, Smith's game action has been sparse -- an exhibition against the U.S. national indoor team in October, another against a Mexican all-star team in November and a six-game tournament over Christmas in Switzerland.

The Sidekicks owners, with an eye toward the summer season, wanted to keep a few players around. Until then, Smith thought he could keep busy by running his own soccer camps and working as a Jaguar salesman at the dealership owned by a Sidekicks owner.

He is not in top shape. But he was pleased to discover that he could get out of bed yesterday morning after his first game with the Spirit.

"It's not too bad," Smith said. "It'll take a couple games. I had been doing weights, but not a lot of running."

Smith's roots are in Dallas. He has a family there, the soccer camps and a mortgage. He agreed only to a 15-day contract with the Spirit, but may stay longer.

"We'll see what happens these next two weeks," Smith said.

Said Cooper, "It's up to us to change his mind. I'd love to see him stay."

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