First shots at Mania goal could be their last Tryouts begin as team aims to secure roster


September 20, 1998|By Lowell E. Sunderland | Lowell E. Sunderland,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Mania went diamond hunting on Glenelg Country School's humpbacked soccer field yesterday.

Coach Darryl Gee and Bill Stara, his assistant, put about 30 aspiring soccer pros through nearly two hours of scrimmage, opening the process of forming a team of about 20 to represent greater Baltimore next year in pro soccer's top minor league.

Three more local tryouts for the new A-League team are scheduled, the third an invitation-only session.

"We're expecting to see about 100 more players," said Gee, who went from Oakland Mills High in the late 1970s straight to the old North American Soccer League's New York Cosmos and a 12-year pro career. He now operates a youth-soccer business in Rockville.

"This always has been a hotbed of the sport," Gee said, "and has produced a lot of outstanding talent. Plus we want to try to find talent that has moved into this area."

The odds of any from these tryouts making the Mania seem nearly as long as those for finding a real diamond. Pressed a bit, Gee pegged "three or four" that he thinks will make it to UMBC, where the Mania expects to play its home games.

At least 25 other players have been invited to a later tryout, a few from abroad, he said. Other talent sources are Major League Soccer's combined tryouts, as well as the college draft, in January. Plus, some A-League and D3 Pro League players will be moving laterally or up through free agency.

Nevertheless, hope tempered by reality accompanied many of yesterday's players, including some with local reputations on which the team would like to build.

"Why wouldn't you want to try out?" said goalkeeper Brian Boussy, 27, a former Oakland Mills standout who teaches social studies and coaches Howard High's boys varsity. He also plays for the champs in a Maryland amateur unlimited league.

"But I came knowing that if I stumbled over a curb and they cut me just for that, my life wouldn't change a bit," said Boussy, laughing. He exhibited his quick, eye-catching ability in drills that Stara put five keepers through.

But Patrice Tabe, a one-time Ivory Coast national keeper via Pittsburgh, had some moments, too. And more keepers are scheduled.

Dave Rosenstein, 27, a defender who played for Stara at Centennial, played in New York's semipro, ethnic leagues after finishing at Brown University. He said he couldn't resist trying out, because "it's always an aspiration to get paid for doing something you like to do."

Sean Peay, 29, an Oakland Mills and Radford University rTC alumnus, called the tryout "my last chance" at the pro ranks. "If I could make it as a substitute or practice player, that'd be enough," he said. "If I were younger, given how the game is going today, I'd get an education but also give this a chance."

Stara, so accustomed to teen-agers, clearly was enthusiastic about running a scrimmage with players of more sophisticated skills.

"But these guys have to understand, the 'Project 40' players' team in the A-League this season -- some of the best players in college last year -- had a losing record," he said. "That tells you about the quality of player we need. So we're looking for ability -- that diamond in the rough. At this level, friendship goes by the wayside."

Pub Date: 9/20/98

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