Layfield makes splash with Bays

January 07, 1994|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

"TC There is nothing flamboyant about Joe Layfield, the newest scoring star for the Baltimore Bays.

He rarely says a word, seldom shows much emotion and has nothing to prove to anybody.

Layfield is just a well-mannered 23-year-old who is getting a chance to play professional soccer indoors.

And does he ever appreciate it? Just every day of his life.

It's been a long wait for the graduate of Calvert Hall and Towson State, who thought he would be playing in the Major Soccer League in the 1992-93 season after being drafted by the Blast in February 1992.

That MSL draft was a major event for Layfield because it took place at the Stouffer Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore as part of the 1992 MSL All-Star Game, and he was surrounded by several members of his family.

But the MSL folded in the summer of 1992 before Layfield could step on the field with the Blast.

"I was really gearing myself up for playing in the MSL after watching people like Billy Ronson and Mark Mettrick play for the Blast," Layfield said. "I felt I could play in that league and I was really upset when I never got a chance."

Layfield, a midfielder, had a chance to give the National Professional Soccer League a whirl for the 1992-93 season, when the Dayton Dynamo drafted him.

But Layfield said he chose a full-time insurance position over the NPSL because the salaries in that league were not as high as the MSL.

So, just when Layfield was resigning himself to a life in the business world, along came the outdoor and indoor Bays, who offered him aplaying position that could fit in with his job.

And Layfield has more than lived up to his billing as a top player.

In five games for the unbeaten Bays -- who play the Toledo Twisters tonight at 8:05 at Du Burns Arena -- he has 12 goals and four assists. That's 28 points under the United States Interregional Soccer League individual scoring system, which gives two points for a goal and one for an assist. He is fourth in the USISL in points and goals.

"I've been helped a lot by Joey Barger and Joe Koziol, who are great at pointing out to me in a nice way what I'm doing wrong," said Layfield. "We play on the same line together, and Joe Koziol came to me before the first game he played with us [Dec. 10] and told me he would make the runs back on defense and free me up for more scoring. Coming from a player like Joe Koziol [former Cleveland Crunch and Blast standout] that was unbelievable. He could have said 'Rookie, you make the runs back on defense and I'll score the goals.' "

Bays coach Kevin Healey praised Layfield's early performance. "He is a knowledgeable indoors player, runs the power play for us, is an accurate passer and a good finisher."

NOTE: Healey said that goalie Scott Manning might stay with the team for the remaining eight regular-season games. Manning had signed to play in only four games and the USISL tournament, Feb. 25-27 in Baltimore.

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