Short-handed Spirit finds its man for goal in Morocco Azmi, 33, fills void left by Vaccaro, Mallia

September 26, 1997|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Joe Mallia has no intention of stepping outside Baltimore, but the Spirit had to go all the way to Morocco to find his replacement.

After Mallia decided to remain at Loyola College as a full-time assistant women's soccer coach and at least temporarily suspend his playing career, the Spirit signed Khalil Azmi, 33, of Morocco to a one-year contract.

Azmi was the starting goalie for Morocco in the 1994 World Cup and has appeared in 73 international games. He played for the Charleston (S.C.) Battery last summer and the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer in 1996.

"Joe has been honest in telling us he wants to some day be a head coach at the Division I college level," said Spirit general vTC manager Drew Forrester. "But if he wants to play again, we'd always consider his return."

With the retirement of Cris Vaccaro, the Spirit was left with only Jim McCombs in goal. Forrester and coach Mike Stankovic ferreted out Azmi, who they feel can make the transition from outdoor to indoor soccer because of his wealth of international experience.

Noting that he and Stankovic have watched Azmi four times, Forrester said: "There's no doubt he has the skills of a high quality goalkeeper."

NOTES: In yesterday's draft mix of two summer leagues, the Spirit picked: First round -- Continental Indoor Soccer League, Gus Castaneda, midfielder, Washington Warthogs; Second round -- CISL, Dave Reichart, midfielder, Monterrey Laraza; Third round -- Eastern Indoor Soccer League, Brett Snyder, forward, Tupelo Hound Dogs; Fourth round -- EISL, Mike Baker, goalie, Tallahassee Scorpions.

Pub Date: 9/26/97

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