Steamers' Doran plays long ball

Player-coach, 41, has most-games mark, brings St. Louis in to face Blast

Pro Soccer

February 05, 2005|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

Blast coach Tim Wittman played in Kansas City last week because his team was desperate for bodies in this injury-filled season. It isn't something he wants to do. Only necessity pulls Wittman from the bench.

"I couldn't walk for three days after that," he said. "My stamina is there. My mind is there. My heart is there. But I can't do it. I don't know how Daryl Doran does."

Doran, like Wittman, is 41. But the player-coach of the St. Louis Steamers is an everyday player, doing more than adding depth.

Doran has his Steamers, who come to 1st Mariner Arena tonight, on top of the Major Indoor Soccer League standings with a 15-9 record that Wittman said is no accident.

And Doran, himself, is near the top of the MISL individual charts. He is third in MISL scoring and first on his team with 30 points (13 goals and 17 assists) and second in the league in assists. His 810 career games played is the most ever by a professional indoor player, according to the Steamers' Web site.

"Is it 810 now?" he said by phone after a morning practice this week. "I'm getting old." And then he laughed. "I never imagined when I started playing this game in 1982 that I'd still be around.

"Heck, back then, I was just happy to make the 20-man roster. Tim Wittman can tell you about those days. If we got a shift or two in a game it was a big deal. The kids today expect more of a chance. It was very tough for young Americans when we started."

Doran credits his long career to his is lifelong commitment to conditioning and training, his serious attitude when it came to rehabilitating injuries and his never-ending weight watching.

"I've had my share of injuries," he said. "But I always thought the rehab process should hurt worse than the injury. Some disregard it, but I've always worked really hard to make sure I was 100 percent before I came back to play a game.

"And I do keep fit. Even in the offseason, I keep my weight within eight or nine pounds of my playing weight, because the older you get, the harder it gets to take it off."

At 180 pounds, Doran said, he's just 10 over what he carried 23 years ago and 10 pounds less than he carried at the height of a career that has included 13 all-star selections.

Some might think there would be a time when a man had enough soccer. But Blast defender Danny Kelly, who will be 36 next month, said while he can't imagine playing to age 41, he understands how Doran has done it.

"If you're capable and doing something you love every day," Kelly said, "why stop? He's a good player who's kept fit and been fortunate to stay [relatively] healthy."

Doran does monitor his playing time. On Wednesday, he pulled himself at halftime of the Steamers' 11-5 victory at home against Kansas City because his team was winning and he knew he faced back-to-back games at Milwaukee last night and in Baltimore tonight.

Doran said next season will be his last, if he survives this one with a bad knee that requires injections for pain.

"I have two children, 13 and 11," Doran said. "It's been wonderful to be able to continue to play a high quality game long enough for them to see it. ... But I'm ready to call it quits anytime - depending on the knee."

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