It didn't take Kevin Healey long to find out how Denison Cabral and Marcelo Valencia would fit in with the Baltimore Bays.
Healey, who always has been proud that his team is primarily composed of players who grew up near Canton's Du Burns Arena, knew the two South American natives were talented but was concerned that their arrival might disrupt the team's chemistry.
His fears quickly dissolved.
"They came to an open tryout we were having and there were a lot of people who were going full tilt and knocking them over because they were trying to make the team, and they never opened their mouths or complained. They just got up and kept playing," said Healey, in his third year as coach.
"When you get a player of their caliber, as a coach, you worry about team chemistry, but it became clear early on that they would fit in well with the team. They are very popular on the team."
It's easy to understand why.
In the Bays' first five U.S. Interregional Soccer League games -- all victories -- the duo has combined for 20 goals. Cabral, who grew up on Florianopolis, an island in Brazil, has emerged as the
Bays' leading scorer with 13 goals.
Valencia, a 5-foot-4, 140-pound native of Chile, has been similarly impressive with seven goals.
Valencia, who attended George Washington on a full scholarship, is aware of the Bays' postseason failures and hopes that he and Cabral can help the team stick around a little longer when the USISL's "Sizzlin' Six" playoff teams meet at the Expo Center in Tulsa, Okla., Feb. 16-18.
"Hopefully, we can help out, but it's no guarantee," said Valencia, who graduated GW last year with a degree in international business. "Two or three players aren't going to put you completely over the top.
"It's a team game and the six guys on the field for each shift have to do the job, and unless everyone contributes we'll be eliminated after the first or second game of the playoffs again. We have a good group of guys, and if we set our mind to it, we can beat anybody."
Cabral and Valencia have played major roles in each win.
Cabral, a three-time Judo champion who does a flip after scoring a goal, did two flips and had two assists in the Bays' opening win over the Connecticut Wolves.
The 5-6, 150-pound forward scored three goals in an 8-7 overtime win against Delaware, two goals and three assists in a 15-5
victory over the Jersey Dragons and five goals in last night's 15-8 win over Delaware.
Valencia has been consistent, notching one goal and two assists in each of the Bays' first four games. Last night, he scored three goals.
"Denison is a bit more flashy than Marcelo, but both can score goals and both are playmakers," said Healey.
"Both of these guys could be a star in any indoor league in America. They both have a nose for the ball, and the bigger the game, the better they play."