Over the past couple of weeks, hopefully fans have learned something about their 2010-11 Baltimore Blast team, which opens their season tonight against the Chicago Riot. And if fans have gotten anything from the previews here, it’s the Blast are more stacked to compete then they were in last year’s playoff loss.
From rookies and transfers to longtime veterans and important placeholders, this year’s Blast team is looking poised to compete. Notice there are a few names missing from the previews, but these veteran stalwarts need no introduction.
Defenders Billy Nelson and Carlos Garcia; forward Giuliano Celenza; midfielder and captain Robbie Aristodemo; and goalkeeper Sagu have been with the Blast team a collective 37 years.
Garcia has been with the team since 2003. He had a down year last season due to illness and a hamstring injury that kept him out of 12 games. But he still managed to record one goal, four assists and eight blocks in a quarter of the number of games he usually plays. Previously, he had always been a solid producer, recording almost equally in goals and assists.
Sagu came to the Blast in 2004 from Dallas. His only losing record with the Blast was his first season and he has never looked back. His highest save total was in the 2006-07 season when he recorded 308. Last season, he totaled 199 in 14 games.
Aristodemo has been a quiet leader for the Blast since he arrived in 2005. The 5-foot-6 midfielder has put up consistent numbers with the Blast and his experience and talent earned him the honor of team captain. Last season, he recorded seven goals and 11 assists, one of which was the 100th of his career, alongside 24 blocks a Blast-career record for Aristodemo. As a Toronto native, he has seven caps for the Canadian National Team and started for the country’s Olympic team.
Celenza and Nelson are two special Blast players. Not only are they both Baltimore natives — born, bred, attended in-state colleges. They are also the only two Blast players who can boast they have been a part of all five Blast championships.
Nelson began with the team in 2001, Celenza in 2000. And the string of championships began soon after that, starting in 2002-03 and earning another the next year. The team failed to qualify in 2004-05, but came back to win again in 2005-06. Though they failed to qualify again the year after, they would come back to win another two back-to-back.
It’s clear when the winning seasons were just from the stats. Celenza had career-highs in ’03-04 and ’05-06 with 33 and 38 goals respectively alongside 14 and nine blocks. Nelson scored 5-6 goals in each of those years, but had a career-high 49 blocks in ’03-04.
It is no surprise the Blast’s success is linked to these talented players. They have all contributed to the success of the franchise not only in their on-the-field talent, but also in their ability to bring in new talent and show the how they do it — the Baltimore way.