Stankovic, Spirit sift talent in 3-day tryout Coach says 5 or 6 will stay after today for 'closer look'

September 18, 1996|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,SUN STAFF

They came from all over the world, from Finland, Argentina, Ghana and Puerto Rico, at their own expense. Eight paid minimal expense, since they had a Baltimore connection.

Spirit coach Mike Stankovic greeted 36 players at a tryout that marked the opening of training camp this week at the Baltimore Arena. The most notable no-show was midfielder Tim Averell, a third-round draft selection out of Muhlenberg who has an injury.

Things are going pretty well, according to Stankovic.

"Some of these guys can definitely play," he said. "Most have a lot of speed and good skill. They don't have great experience indoors, but they can learn that."

The three-day audition will end today. Stankovic cut eight candidates yesterday and, after today's session, will keep five or six who "have a good chance to make it" and invite them to join the veterans tomorrow.

"I need a closer look at these guys," Stankovic said.

Since Stankovic had seen only a handful of the players before this week, he is reluctant to single out anyone. But he did mention Todd Hicks, the former Towson State star who was the Spirit's territorial choice in the National Professional Soccer League draft.

"Todd is doing well," Stankovic said. "You can see he has a feel for indoor soccer."

Hicks, a Bowie High grad, led Towson last year to a 14-4 record and a No. 20 national ranking. He is the Tigers' all-time assists leader with 28 and scored 20 career goals.

In recent weeks, Stankovic conducted four tryouts in Croatia, identifying three men in particular "who can play," all in their early 20s with First Division seasoning.

"There's a chance we'll bring one or two here," Stankovic said.

Meantime, general manager Drew Forrester is continuing contract discussions with Paul Wright, the Spirit's leading scorer in 1993-94 with 146 points, ninth in the NPSL that season.

Forrester noted that Wright played this summer for Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wiz.

"One thing we have to get is an agreement from Major League Soccer not to call him back in February," the GM said.

Pub Date: 9/18/96

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