In an attempt to form a nucleus of quality players, the Spirit has signed defenders Omid Namazi and Lance Johnson to three-year contracts.
"We're trying to build a foundation for years to come," said coach Dave MacWilliams. "Omid and Lance will be part of it."
Namazi was acquired last December and quickly became the team's best defender and team captain.
Johnson, a Towson State grad, was chosen for the American Division squad for the National Professional Soccer League All-Star Game last season in his second pro year.
Johnson and Namazi will live here year-round and do promotional work for the club and serve as instructors at the Spirit's youth summer camp.
At the news conference to announce the player signings yesterday, owner Bill Stealey quieted, at least temporarily, rumors that he might sell or move the team.
"Every year by May 1, we evaluate things and make a decision," Stealey said. "It's after May 1, so, yes, we're committed for the coming season."
But after that? Stealey said he will continue to listen to cities that might offer a better deal than he has here.
"I'm jealous of some cities in the South that have nice new arenas with luxury boxes," Stealey said. "I've had discussions with them. I'm not rushing out and looking for them, but when arenas come to me, I have to listen. . . . As much as I love soccer, it is a business."
Elsewhere in the NPSL, the Dayton Dynamo has moved to Cincinnati and will be known as the Silverbacks and the Canton Invaders reportedly are headed for the larger Ohio city of Columbus.
The NPSL will increase to 13 teams this season with the inclusion of the Tampa Bay Terror and possibly to 16 in 1996-97 if the applications of Philadelphia, Toronto and New Haven, Conn., are accepted.
Tampa Bay, headed by ex-Spirit coach Kenny Cooper, will be stocked with players from current clubs in an expansion draft this month or next.