Marcano becomes Blast's `Mr. Versatility'

Defender, ex-Marine fills bill as temporary forward


January 08, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Derrick Marcano's ability to perform many tasks in a given setting can be traced to a four-year stint in the armed forces.

The Marines, in fact, which he joined as a 17-year-old right out of high school.

"In the Marine Corps, we had a five-mile march," Marcano said. "They pack you in a backpack, and you have to run, get dumped in water, cross a rope. And you have to do it in a certain time. If you don't do it, then they send you to a different platoon.

"For guys who couldn't do those physical things, boot camp would be longer. So you already would have gone through [heck] for 11 weeks, and if you couldn't do the five-mile, you would have to go through it for 15, 16 weeks."

Incidentally, Marcano did the march on the first try.

He doesn't have to climb ropes or swim now, but his versatility in soccer remains constant. Marcano is the guy coach Kevin Healey turned to when forward Erik Rasmussen went down -- switching from defender to forward, his position when the Blast (11-7) faces the Detroit Rockers (6-11) at 7: 30 tonight at Baltimore Arena.

Asking Marcano to make that switch wasn't hard -- he played forward before switching to defense six years ago when he entered the National Professional Soccer League.

"When he was playing outdoor soccer, they moved him to defender," Healey said. "Some people questioned that. Now he is a defender, and people wonder, can he play forward? The guy can do both."

Indeed, he can. Marcano has 15 points, as well as 12 blocked shots this season, his fourth with the Baltimore franchise.

Marcano, 34, began his career in the 1994-95 season, then played two years for the Tampa Bay Terror, serving the latter as player-coach and leading the team to the playoffs.

The coach still comes out in him on the field.

"Derrick has always been a communicator," defender Lance Johnson said. "He'll let you know how he feels all the time. He always keeps it lighthearted, too. He is very motivating.

"He's always going to try [to] get you to play at your best. He's very active and never shuts up. We've gotten into it a couple of times because of that."

Marcano, at 5 feet 10, 200 pounds, is the Blast's heftiest player. That size is his biggest asset, allowing him on defense to be physical with forwards; at forward, it lets him shield the ball and set up others.

He is a local product, having played at Cardinal Gibbons, Essex Community College and Towson University. His years in the Marines after high school were without soccer, he said, but they kept him away from the street life some of his friends pursued.

"I had a ton of friends die, a lot to this day [who] are addicted to different drugs -- cocaine, heroin. A lot of my close friends are locked up. So it was a blessing that I did go to the Marines, because it gave me that time to mature and get away from all those dangerous things."

Marcano and the East Division-leading Blast will be trying to build on a five-game winning streak against the Rockers, last in the North Division.

Blast tonight

Opponent: Detroit Rockers

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7: 30

Radio: WCBM (680 AM)

Outlook: The Rockers signed two-time NPSL Defender of the Year Sean Bowers to a 15-day contract. This is his third game with the team, and he joins December Defensive Player of the Month Randy Prescott. The Rockers are last in the league in scoring and second in points-against average. The Blast is looking for its sixth straight win.

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