Even injuries can't keep Troy down Durable veteran starts fast for Spirit

December 06, 1992|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

The sight was so rare, Spirit trainer Marty McGinty was saying, someone ought to record it for posterity.

In the stands at Myers Pavilion, where the team practices, while coach Kenny Cooper put the squad through a workout, sat Rusty Troy, of all people. Durable Rusty Troy, one of indoor soccer's iron men.

"You just don't see Rusty miss a practice or a game," McGinty said. "I can count on the fingers of one hand the times he has missed these last five years. You can't say that about many players."

This was last Monday, and the only reason Troy skipped practice was that part of the nail on his left big toe had broken off and McGinty wanted to guard against infection in the raw area.

Although Goran Hunjak is the Spirit's points leader, the hottest player currently is Troy. He leads the team with 21 points. He had seven goals in two games before Friday night when he failed to score a goal against the Wichita Wings. By halftime of the Dec. 28 game against Harrisburg, Troy already had a hat trick.

Yet, his most cherished moment in five years in Baltimore, the first four with the now-defunct Blast, was the second game of his 1988 rookie season. He scored three goals in a 6-4 victory over Tacoma, making a strong impression on Baltimore's fans.

"That was my biggest game as a pro," said Troy. "When you think of the caliber of players on that team, and that I got a chance to play with them and had a hat trick, well, nothing since has matched it. Doing it before the home crowd made it that much sweeter."

Troy was fresh out of the University of North Texas, which played in the soccer shadow of Southern Methodist. It wasn't until he scored four goals and three assists in a bowl game showcasing college seniors following a week-long camp in Cleveland that he attracted the pro scouts' attention.

He was drafted by Chicago, which promptly folded. Cooper snatched him for the Blast in a dispersal draft.

"Rusty was recommended by guys I know who had seen him play," said Cooper, referring to Jim Benedek, then coaching at SMU, and Charles DeLong, a high school coach in Texas. "And he certainly made an impact in that college showcase game."

Watching Troy play, Cooper was drawn to the veteran for additional reasons. His durability, for one. His willingness to play anywhere, for another. His demonstrated leadership.

For the final half of last season, Cooper named Troy the Blast's captain and he shares that distinction this year with Tim Wittman.

"Even when he first came here, you could see he was a leader," Cooper said.

"When we have an injury, he says he'll play there, no matter what the position. He has suited up as a reserve goalie in the past."

Friday night, Troy was goalkeeper for about five minutes.

"When Tim sprained his ankle the other week against Cleveland, Troy moved from midfield to target man. All of this gives Rusty a better understanding of the game and makes him more valuable to us."

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