McIntosh's Spirit return seen unlikely Suspension apparently sealed top scorer's fate

June 14, 1996|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,SUN STAFF

Omid Namazi is gone and Franklin McIntosh almost certainly is going. Both were key Spirit players last season.

XTC The Spirit lost Namazi, the team captain and a defensive standout, to the Philadelphia Kixx in last week's National Professional Soccer League expansion draft.

New Kixx coach Dave MacWilliams, who resigned from the Spirit last January in his second year as the team's coach, selected Namazi.

Spirit general manager Drew Forrester said that "in all likelihood, Franklin will not return." McIntosh, the club's leading scorer last season and the NPSL leader in assists, was suspended for the final two regular-season games for missing a practice. The suspension later was extended through the playoffs.

McIntosh, whose two-year contract will expire Sept. 30, was given permission to miss Wednesday's practice during the final week of the regular season to attend to personal business involving property in San Francisco. The stipulation was that he would return for Thursday's workout.

"We had two of our most important games of the season that weekend," Forrester said.

"When Franklin didn't get back for Thursday's practice, that indicated to me and Mike [coach Stankovic] his commitment wasn't as strong as everyone else's. So we suspended him."

McIntosh, who's playing for the Atlanta Ruckus of the outdoor A League this summer, snorted at the criticism of his commitment.

"That's bull," he said. "My commitment is as strong as anybody's. I told Drew and Mike way ahead of time that I had business and would miss practices. I don't know what went wrong after that."

The Spirit clinched second place with a win over the St. Louis Ambush that Saturday, but also held McIntosh out of the first-round playoff series against the Harrisburg Heat.

After losing to Harrisburg three straight years in the first round, the Spirit won, and exuded confidence going into the American Division championship series against the Cleveland Crunch.

"We decided to keep Franklin out of that series, too," Forrester said. "We were playing well. Franklin was very professional. He came to the playoff games and called to congratulate us after we beat Harrisburg."

Does McIntosh have any desire to return to the Spirit?

"Zero" McIntosh said. "I'd be slapping myself in the face. By suspending me, they said, in effect, they don't need me anymore."

"This is a team," Forrester said. "No one player is bigger than the system."

Pub Date: 6/14/96

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