Before the Spirit's practice at Du Burns Arena yesterday for tonight's game with the Rockers Detroit at the Baltimore Arena, Franklin McIntosh was playing in the goal.
McIntosh was at the center of the pre-workout fun -- turning away shots by his laughing, joking teammates, doing his best impersonations of regular goalies Cris Vaccaro, who will start tonight, and Joe Mallia, who alternates starts with Vaccaro.
That's a far cry from where McIntosh was a week ago.
At that time, he was under indefinite suspension for what was called a team violation, which meant he'd popped off at coach Dave MacWilliams.
He wasn't even in uniform when the Spirit lost here, 17-9, to Cleveland in its last game. But the high-scoring midfielder (10 goals, 16 assists, 35 points) was reinstated this week and will start tonight against the Rockers.
"Definitely, I'm glad to be back," said McIntosh. "Everything is straight. I have no problem with anybody. The whole thing was blown out of proportion."
MacWilliams is on the same page now with his team's leading scorer.
"Franklin and I sat down and talked," said the coach. "We had a meeting and he apologized to me for his behavior. He apologized to the team. His attitude is fine now, but I could see in practice that he has lost some fitness from being idle.
"So we go on. It's all behind us. . . if nothing else happens."
MacWilliams doesn't blame the loss to Cleveland on McIntosh's absence.
"We would have lost that game no matter who was in there,"
MacWilliams said. "We just didn't execute as a team. I do think it bothered the team a little not knowing what Franklin's status was at that time. Is he in? Is he out? Now they know: he's in."
The return of McIntosh has to help the Spirit, which finds itself a little behind the pace MacWilliams had projected for the first 10 games of the franchise's National Professional Soccer League season.
"We wanted to be 8-2," MacWilliams said of his team, which is 5-2, third in the American Division. "It's important that we win this game and start winning again."
Opponent: Detroit Rockers
Site: Baltimore Arena
Radio: WWLG (1360 AM)
Outlook: The Spirit hasn't played in a week and needs to regain the winning touch it showed earlier in compiling its 5-2 record, which has the team in third place in the NPSL's seven-team American Division. The return of Franklin McIntosh from a one-game suspension is expected to help Baltimore's offense. He's the team's leading scorer. Detroit is led by All-Star goalie Bryan Finnerty and Pato Margetic, the league's No. 3 scorer.