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Veteran Blast goalkeeper Sagu won't return to team

Veteran Blast goalkeeper Sagu, a member of three championship teams in his eight seasons playing in Baltimore, announced he would not be returning to the team Monday.

After being named the Major Indoor Soccer League's Goalkeeper of the Year for a second straight season, Sagu, 39, had planned to play one more season for the Blast. But the native of Brazil will instead step down now to pursue an assistant college coaching job in Dallas, where he began his professional career in the United States. He also would like to coach at the youth level and will continue playing for the Dallas Sidekicks of the Professional Arena Soccer League.

"I loved the time I spent here in Baltimore and it's going to be really, really tough for me. We won three championships, I made a lot of friends and the fans supported us all the time," Sagu said. "I just want to thank [Blast owner] Ed Hale and [general manager] Kevin Healey for the opportunity and trusting in me. I'm going to miss Baltimore and all the people really, really bad."

Last season, Sagu went 15-5 with a 9.61 points against average (tops among starting goalkeepers in the league) and .726 save percentage. It was his fourth Goalkeeper of the Year award with the Blast. He was named to seven all-league teams in his eight seasons and was named the Most Valuable Player in the 2009 MISL Championship Game.

"He was a winner for us on and off the field," Healey said. "As a goalkeeper, he was outstanding and provided great leadership from the back. Off the field, he got out into the community and made people want to come to our games."

With Sagu's departure, the Blast hopes to turn to Loyola Blakefield and Wake Forest graduate Akira Fitzgerald as its new starting goalkeeper. As a rookie last season, Fitzgerald went 3-1 with a 9.11 points against average and .673 save percentage. Fitzgerald, who turned 25 this month, was a four-year standout at Loyola and was named The Sun's All-Metro Player of the Year in 2005 before being part of an NCAA championship team at Wake Forest. But Fitzgerald is pursuing opportunities to play outdoor soccer and Healey said he hasn't made a commitment to return to the Blast this season.


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