Hard Work Is Aristodemo's Calling Card
By Staci Wolfson
Robbie Aristodemo's name may not be at the top of every game's stat sheet, but the midfielder's teammates and coaches say he's a big reason for the success of the Baltimore Blast.
|Robbie Aristodemo ranked fourth on the team last season with 41 points.
The 5-foot-6, seven-year professional indoor soccer veteran can be spotted defending the goal when the Blast are a man down. He'll be taking advantage of opponents' weaknesses when the team is looking for a power-play goal, and he'll be donning a bright yellow jersey when the Blast need a boost from a sixth attacker late in the game.
Of Aristodemo's 41 points that ranked him fourth on the team last season, 18 came from assists. In six games this season, he has contributed 13 points on eight assists and two goals.
"Robbie's the type of player that every team needs," said coach Danny Kelly. "Not only is he a guy who's very good on the ball, he's on our set plays, he's running the power play, and he's on our man-down unit, he does all the little dirty things that go unnoticed on the stat sheets. But the thing with him is he shows up on the stat sheets as well."
Aristodemo certainly made his mark on the stat sheets in the Dec. 12 contest that the Blast won, 27-2. He posted eight points against the Massachusetts Twisters on five assists and a three-point goal. His performance earned him Player of the Week honors, and he remains tied for the league lead in assists.
"He's a professional," Kelly said. "He's prepared. We have a veteran team, and he's one of our leaders on the field in a lot of situations. He creates a lot of opportunities for himself and for other players on the squad just through hard work and the little things he does on the field."
"Robbie just works hard up and down the field, giving 110 percent, throwing his body all over the place," said nine-year veteran Giuliano Celenza, a close friend who considers Aristodemo to be the Luigi to his Mario. "There are games when he comes and his knees are all torn up, and fans can just see that year in and year out, just him giving everything that he has."
Those qualities have made Aristodemo Kelly's choice for the team's power play and man-down units as well as the team's sixth attacker. It's a tribute to his versatility.
"I have a pretty good engine, a good work rate," Aristodemo said. "I consider myself a good two-way player, so offensively and defensively I try to contribute on both ends of the field."
One of the intangibles Aristodemo said he developed since joining the Blast is the ability to assume a role as a veteran leader.
"Robbie's a leader because he studies the game very well," Celenza said. "He's our central midfield, so a lot of things go through Robbie. I think he sees the field very well, he reads the game very well. He does a lot of things well for us; he orchestrates our team."
"He just leads by example," Kelly said. "Every time he steps on the field, he gives you everything he has. He's a smart player, he understands the game. As his teammates and coaches, you appreciate what he does. He's willing to go into the corner, he's willing to get down and block shots, he's willing to do whatever it takes every shift on the floor."
And he won't settle for anything but the best. As Baltimore (5-1) continues its season as defending champion, Aristodemo's top goal is to win.
"If we don't win, it's a disappointing year," he said. "And I think that goes through everyone's head on our team. If we don't win this year, it's going to be a disappointment. We're off to a good start, but it's a long season, and hopefully we'll have a chance to play in the final. That's our goal, to get to the final and win."
Issue 133: January 2009