John Garvey was born in New Haven, Conn., but he feels almost as if he's home in Baltimore, with the Spirit.
Garvey is playing for his third National Professional Soccer League team in two years and his fourth in three years.
Now Garvey is back in the area where he spent four great years, at the University of Maryland, where he was an All-American and, he is quick to tell you, he earned his degree.
The first Terp to play for the Spirit, Garvey welcomed the trade that brought him from the Tampa Bay Terror to Baltimore for Zak Ibsen two weeks ago. Although he had been with Tampa Bay only a few months, he needed a change.
"It's great to get back to a familiar environment and see my old friends and be with a contender," Garvey said. "It's energizing."
His numbers back up his words. When he erupted for five goals in last week's 23-10 win over the Wichita Wings, it gave him nine in his first four games. Entering tonight's game against the Detroit Rockers, Garvey has 11 goals in six games.
"John's going to do some damage for us," general manager Drew Forrester said. 'He's already shown he can score."
After scoring nine goals in 10 games for Tampa Bay, Garvey left the club Dec. 18 to be with his ailing father in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. His only soccer activity until he joined the Spirit was an audition at Major League Soccer's scouting combine in Irvine, Calif.
Garvey, 26, who also has played for Wichita and the Milwaukee Wave -- he had 39 goals in 29 games for the Wings last season -- wound up at Maryland after visiting a few other colleges, including Wake Forest.
"I just loved it at Maryland," he said.
Then-Spirit coach Dave MacWilliams was eager to acquire Garvey "to help solidify the other line." The first line of Franklin McIntosh, Kevin Sloan and Bobby Joe Esposito or Gary Ross was accounting for most of the scoring.
The "other line" once got much of its punch from Dave Vaudreuil, but he has been out for 12 games and underwent surgery this week to repair a tear in his abdominal wall. Barry Stitz was contributing as well, but he has been hampered by a sprained ankle. Another midfielder, Jamie Christie, has a pulled hamstring.
Clearly, Garvey is picking up the slack.
Opponent: Detroit Rockers
Site: Cobo Arena, Detroit
Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WASA (1330 AM)
Outlook: This is the Spirit's first game under new coach Mike Stankovic. The club has lost five of its past six and eight of its past 11. The Spirit and the Rockers are meeting for the second HTC and final time this season. The Spirit won the first game, 16-9, Dec. 1. Detroit is 10-16 and fifth in the National Professional Soccer League's National Division but has won five straight. Rockers G Bryan Finnerty's next loss will make him the NPSL's first with 100 regular-season defeats; he has 95 victories.