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For Marco Mangione, Playing for Blast Is Family Tradition

November 15, 2013

Last year, the name Mangione was back on the Baltimore Blast roster. But for longtime fans, it wasn't the same player they had seen before.

Forward Marco Mangione is entering his second season with the Blast. His father, Nick, played for the team during the 1980s. The younger Mangione said it was hard work learning the nuances of the indoor game, perhaps harder than following in his dad's footsteps.

Issue 191: Baltimore Blast: Marco Mangione
Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox

"A lot of the fans kind of recognize the name and [have] taken a liking to me," Mangione said. "Last year, he gave me some pointers. This year, he probably won't give me too many pointers, because I've been in the league. Plus, I'm sure the league has changed since he's been here."

The league certainly has. The Blast name is in its second iteration since the Major Indoor Soccer League folded in 1992. A North Carolina executive, Bill Stealey, bought the Baltimore Spirit during the summer of 1992, when the team joined the National Professional Soccer League. It wasn't until current owner Ed Hale bought the team in 1998 that the original Blast name was reinstated.

Nick Mangione was one of the original Blast players, named to the team's inaugural roster after graduating from what was then Loyola College, and was also a member of the 1983-84 championship team.

Thirty years later, his son has accomplished some of the same goals, contributing to the Blast's 2012-13 MISL championship season.

"I think this team's motivated to do the exact same thing that we did last year," Mangione said. "We want to win a championship, and anything short of that is a failure to us.

"My goal is to help the team any way I can, whether it's defensively or offensively. I would definitely like to put some more goals on the board and assists, but I want to get out there and help any way I can."

Mangione finished his first season with the Blast having collected seven goals and three assists, contributing during two January wins in particular on the way to the Blast's 21-5 season.

After an entire soccer career playing on an outdoor field, Mangione had a difficult time adjusting to the indoor game, he said.

"The game never stops," Mangione said. "With the boards and everything, the ball doesn't really go out of bounds too much. And you always have to be aware of what's going on, as opposed to outdoor, where you might have time to take a little break or something like that. You don't really get that in indoor."

Blast head coach Danny Kelly said Mangione was making progress leading up to the Nov. 16 season opener against the Rochester Lancers.

"Marco had a good rookie season for us," Kelly said. "He gave us quality minutes and scored some timely goals as well. He's looked good early on here in training camp, and we think he's capable of being an impact player every game for us."

Mangione said he had been feeling more comfortable on the field as he prepared for the 2013-14 MISL season.

"I know how the game is played now," Mangione said. "I've been taught by the best players in the league I think for a year. Now, my second year, it seems to come a little bit easier. I'm a little bit more relaxed on the field."

It could help his comfort level that he's playing with some of the players who are already established. Though he didn't attend his father's alma mater, Loyola, Mangione did stay in Baltimore, playing for Frank Olszewski at Towson University.

While there, Mangione also played one season with fifth-year Blast defender Pat Healey, and he knew former Blast forward Machel Millwood from Towson alumni events.

Millwood played for the Tigers in 2001 and 2002, and still ranks in the top 10 in five different statistical categories. In fact, Mangione finished four spots below Millwood in one of them -- school record for career leaders in goals scored.

As a Towson and Calvert Hall College High School graduate, Mangione said having the chance to play in his hometown had been a plus. Finishing his career elsewhere, as his father did in Kansas City, doesn't seem like a step in his father's footsteps Mangione wants to follow.

"I've been too many places to play soccer," Mangione said, "and, even though some have been overseas, nothing beats home if you ask me."

Issue 191: November 2013