Blast's Aristodemo stars behind scenes

Pro Soccer

December 03, 2005|By GARY LAMBRECHT | GARY LAMBRECHT,SUN REPORTER

He does not score much, but Blast midfielder Robbie Aristodemo is too busy doing everything else on the soccer field to care about it.

Three games into his first season in Baltimore, Aristodemo is making the mark the Blast envisioned when it selected him in the Major Indoor Soccer League's dispersal draft in September.

The team wanted a young, two-way player to assume multiple roles, and the early, glowing returns are in on the former member of the now-defunct Cleveland Force.

Aristodemo, 28, a fourth-year MISL veteran, is as good as advertised. He has been the picture of hustle and good positioning on a defense that has allowed just 13 goals this season.

On offense, he has been an igniter, adept at maintaining possession while the offense regroups, or making the right pass to fuel the fast break, or making a sharp run off the ball to yield, for him, unusual results.

Two weeks ago, Aristodemo's first three-goal game of his professional career pushed the Blast to a 12-5 rout of St. Louis. But don't expect those types of numbers in the future. The Blast (2-1) has plenty of scorers. Aristodemo is content as a key member of its supporting cast.

"I definitely can live with not getting the recognition," said Aristodemo, who ranks fourth on the team with five points. "Let guys like [Adauto] Neto and Denison [Cabral] and Guils [Celenza] be the offense. People within the team know who's doing the dirty work."

Aristodemo's workload, which also includes spots on the power play and penalty-killing units, has not gone unnoticed. Forward Lee Tschantret, who spent time at midfield last season after injuries ravaged the team, has a deeper appreciation of Aristodemo's approach.

"You have to be unselfish, and you're doing a lot of bad work [at midfield]. It's a thankless spot a lot of times," Tschantret said. "You're basically supposed to paint the entire field from goal box to goal box. You might run for an entire shift and not touch the ball.

"Playing against [Aristodemo] is a pain because he's good on both ends. He's a very good possession midfielder. Now we have another guy who can think the game and hold the ball and knows when to go hard [in transition] and when not to push it and lose [the ball]. I was ecstatic when we got him."

After playing for San Diego and Cleveland, two MISL franchises that have since gone belly up, Aristodemo was thrilled the Blast called his name in the second round of the dispersal draft.

He has wasted no time blending in smoothly, right down to the eight appearances he has made in the community, from autograph sessions to charity work.

"We have to give back, and we have to go do what we can to put people in the seats," said Aristodemo, a Toronto area native who played on two youth World Cup teams for Canada and graduated from the University of Tulsa before turning pro.

"It's always good to be in a stable environment," he added. "[The Blast] has a lot of veterans I can learn from. I've always liked the crowd and the whole atmosphere. I had a gut feeling I might end up here."

Blast general manager Kevin Healey got his wish when Aristodemo - who had 31 goals and 29 assists in his previous three seasons - was still on the board when the team picked eighth overall in the dispersal draft.

"Robbie is an engine kind of a player," Healey said. "He's a young player with a long career ahead of him."

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

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