The Spirit sought Kevin Sloan for a number of reasons, not the least of which was his enormous energy.
Spirit coach Dave MacWilliams suspects Sloan "may have more energy than anyone in the league." Teammate Jason Dieter doesn't "know how a guy has so much energy after 11 weeks of training camp."
Sloan has always played with a nonstop aggressiveness, dating to his days at Oakland Mills High and continuing through Catawba College and his pro career that has included seasons with the Maryland Bays, Baltimore Blast and Dayton Dynamo.
"I do my work on defense as well as offense," Sloan said. "I want to give stability to our midfield, and that's where my energy comes in. No one wants to mark a guy who puts so much into defense and then explodes on offense, too."
It is ironic, Sloan says, that his style is similar to that of the Harrisburg Heat, the Spirit's National Professional Soccer League opponent tonight at 7:05 at the Baltimore Arena.
"My upbeat, high-energy pace is Harrisburg's style," Sloan said. "They're an up-and-down-the-floor team. Baltimore has always been a possession team that likes to slow it down. I'm hoping I can add another dimension with my energy and enthusiasm."
The Spirit first expressed interest in acquiring Sloan last season, when he was with the Dynamo and en route to scoring a career-high 90 points in only 28 games. The idea appealed to Sloan, for he had just gotten married and wanted to return home.
"My roots are here," said Sloan, 28. "I wasn't getting any younger and I didn't think my future was in Dayton."
But he didn't think it would take four months to consummate a trade. While he was waiting, he helped conduct Spirit camps last summer, with Dayton's blessing, under the assumption a deal was imminent.
But the Dynamo wanted more for Sloan than Spirit vice president Drew Forrester was willing to surrender. Finally, on Sept. 30, the Spirit sent Clark Brisson and Rob Ukrop to Dayton for Sloan and backup goalie Joe Mallia.
"He's one of the fittest guys on the team, and runs the whole game," MacWilliams said. "He's a student of soccer. We watch tapes. We talk. He's constantly asking questions, looking for ways that I think he can improve."
After two games, both victories, Sloan has two goals and three assists for eight points, leaving him second on the team behind Jon Parry, the NPSL's third-leading scorer with 14.
"The Spirit had a need for someone like me," Sloan said. "A player with energy."
Opponent: Harrisburg Heat
Site: Baltimore Arena
Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WAMD (970 AM)
Tickets: Many available
Outlook: This will be the first regular-season game between the I-83 rivals. The Spirit is 2-0, Harrisburg 0-1 after losing to the Cleveland Crunch. The Spirit beat Harrisburg in two exhibitions this month, but neither team had all of its top players. Last season, the teams split six regular-season games, but the Heat eliminated the Spirit in the first round of the National Professional Soccer League playoffs for the second straight year. Tarik Walker is questionable for the Spirit with a sprained ankle. D Steve Boardman, who played for the Spirit in 1992-93, was signed this week and will be available.