Baltimore loses spirited player in Troy


He arrived six years ago as a rookie of 21, just out of college. He leaves as a seasoned pro, a stabilizing influence on any team.

Rusty Troy, who spent four seasons with the Blast and two with the Spirit, will play his final soccer game in Baltimore when the Bays entertain the Richmond Kickers tomorrow night at 7:30 at UMBC Stadium.

Since the Spirit's National Professional Soccer League indoor season ended last month, Troy has played three games for the outdoor Bays of the U.S. Interregional Soccer League. Tomorrow night he will play his fourth, and last.

Troy and his wife, Jennifer, both Dallas natives, will return to their hometown within two weeks. She has a job there as a senior financial analyst. He will return to the University of North Texas to complete the final semester for his finance degree and probably play more soccer.

He was picked by Las Vegas in the recent Continental Indoor Soccer League draft, but he wants to play for Dallas, coached by Gordon Jago, a Baltimore Bays coach in the late 1960s.

"Gordon's trying to work a trade for me and it looks good, only a matter of time," Troy said. "If a trade can't be worked out, I won't play at all this year.

"There's a new outdoor league scheduled to start play next year and Dallas is being considered for a franchise. I want to play soccer as long as I can."

Bays coach Kevin Healey was glad to have Troy, even for only a few games. Troy brought with him the qualities that ex-Spirit coach Kenny Cooper admired. "Rusty is a warrior," Cooper often said of his captain.

"He gave stability to our midfield and forward positions," Healey said. "He has a good work rate and a professional attitude. He's particularly good at heading the ball, which is done more outdoors than indoors."

Troy says he would like to be remembered here as a man who played in 95 percent of the Blast's and Spirit's games, sometimes when hurt, and who always was at practice and gave an extra effort.

"That was most gratifying, that I did those things," Troy said. "I wasn't a great goal scorer, but I got my share. I wasn't a great defender, but I was solid."

Troy was the Major Soccer League's Rookie of the Year with the Blast in 1988-89 and the team captain in 1991-92. Last season with the Spirit, as Cooper's captain again after Tim Wittman's season-ending knee injury, Troy was tied for third with Tarik Walker and Clark Brisson on the team's points list with 73.

"I couldn't have had a better six-year soccer experience anywhere else," Troy said. "The Blast was a top franchise and the Spirit is. I really enjoyed the summer camps and helping kids learn to play soccer."

While Troy prepares for his final game, Walker is preparing to return to the Bays after missing the past two games. He finished the Spirit season with an injured hamstring and aggravated it in the Bays' opener.

"It looks like he's ready," Healey said.

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