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Wednesday, July 11, 2012
L.A. BLUES: Jean-Baptiste arrives on loan

By Scott French

Bright Dike has returned to Portland after energizing the L.A. Blues attack with six goals over a seven-game span, but the Fullerton-based USL Pro club picked up something good from the Timbers.

Center back Andrew Jean-Baptiste, a first-round pick in January's MLS SuperDraft, has joined the Blues on loan from Portland in advance of this week's games against last-place Antigua Barracuda in Bradenton, Fla.

Also arriving on loan is Orlando City forward Maxwell Griffin (Palmdale/Littlerock HS), a former UCLA star who scored 10 USL Pro goals last year and finished the season on loan to the San Jose Earthquakes. The Blues sent winger George Davis IV to Orlando on loan in the deal.

The moves with Portland coincide with Monday's dismissal of Timbers head coach John Spencer, with general manager Gavin Wilkinson taking charge on an interim basis for the rest of the MLS season.'

The Blues also have signed defender Josh Suggs, who played for the club last year and has been with San Jose this season, and goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski, a Chicago Fire supplemental draft pick who spent nearly a week on trial in February with Chivas USA. Head coach Charlie Naimo indicated L.A. also is talking to an MLS club about acquiring an attacking player.

Woszczynski could be replacing Amir Abedzadeh, the Blues' No. 1 goalkeeper, whose transfer to a club overseas appears imminent.

Naimo, whose team has lost five in a row, expects to release a few players this week.

“Everybody knows we’re one win away from feeling good again,” he said in a club release. “That said, it doesn’t erase what I’ve seen over the past two weeks. Nothing will ever erase that -- not even two wins this week in Florida. What has happened has happened, and the mark has been left. Making changes now is nothing more than the logical conclusion from that.

“It’s never personal, but we’re absolutely going to release players and trade to bring on others who we think can help us. I’m exhausting every minute of my time right now to try to find a way for us to get better in our personnel.”

Jean-Baptiste, who turned 20 last month, was the No. 8 selection in the SuperDraft after signing a Generation adidas contract with MLS following his sophomore season at the University of Connecticut. He has played in four MLS games for the Timbers, scoring in his debut.

He and Suggs are slated to start in central defense in the games Thursday and Saturday against Antigua.

Griffin, 24, was a first-team All-USL Pro selection last year after leading Orlando City to the third-division league's championship. His older brother, Leonard, was a defender for the Blues last year.

Dike scored six goals in 10 goals while on loan to the Blues, but Portland recalled him early this week. He missed Sunday's 4-0 loss to Orlando City after suffering a hamstring strain in a 1-0 defeat two days earlier to the Lions.

The Blues (5-8-2) are eighth in the 11-team league with nine games remaining. The top six go to the playoffs.