In a better-late-than-never scenario, four Brazilian players have joined the Blast and should strengthen a roster hit hard by injuries last season.
None will suit up tonight when the team plays the Milwaukee Wave in a Major Indoor Soccer League game, but they are finally participating in training sessions nearly a month after visa problems delayed their departure from Sao Paulo. If they make the roster, some or all in the group will be offered contracts.
Three are midfielders - Bruno Felipe Da Silva, Hugo Da Silva and Lucio - and one, Raul Marcel, is a defender. They join three of their countrymen - goalkeeper Sagu, midfielder Denison Cabral and forward Adauto Neto (who is injured).
"Depth is a good thing to have," coach Danny Kelly said. "We didn't have what we needed last year and ultimately didn't reach our goal [the playoffs]."
Kelly went to Brazil last summer on a scouting trip and liked the four, who live in Sagu's hometown, the capital of the country.
Adapting to the indoor game will be the biggest challenge for the group, which has played a version of indoor soccer but must get accustomed to the boards and how to use them effectively.
"You have to run all the time. In our [indoor] game, if the ball gets out, you get a quick breather, but not here," said Da Silva, who served as spokesman for the group. "The main difference is the boards, but I think we're going to have great success. We will be conditioned in a few days and we will do our best."
Kelly has been pleased with the early workouts.
"To be honest, it takes a couple of years to learn the game thoroughly," he said. "It's going to be three or four weeks before we make any decisions on these players. But the Brazilians are skillful and athletic with good pace. It's just a matter of whether they can adjust to our game. It's tough to learn."
Communication is not a problem because Kelly speaks some Spanish and Da Silva speaks four languages, including English. The three current Brazilian players also can serve as translators in Portuguese.
"We want to get to know not only the Brazilians but all the Baltimore Blast," Da Silva said. "This is one big family and we want to enjoy everybody."
Matchup -- Milwaukee Wave (0-0) at Blast (1-0)
Site -- 1st Mariner Arena
Time -- 7:35
Radio -- 680 AM
Outlook -- Two old rivals meet in the Major Indoor Soccer League opener for the Wave, which went 3-3 against the Blast last season, but lost two of three here. The Blast will be trying to build on an impressive 8-2 victory over the defending league champion Philadelphia KiXX in its debut, when rookie Michael Todd led the way offensively with two goals. Milwaukee brings one of the league's most potent attackers in Greg Howes, the second-leading scorer in the league last season with 105 points. Both teams will be missing a key player because of foot injuries, Adauto Neto (Blast) and Todd Dusosky (Wave). It is replica jersey night, with the first 2,000 kids receiving Mike Lookingland T-shirts.