Two Blast mainstays announce retirements

Two Baltimore Blast mainstays — captain and midfielder Robbie Aristodemo and defender Billy Nelson — have announced their retirements.

Aristodemo, 34, spent the last six seasons of his nine-year indoor career with the Blast, scoring 56 goals and adding 82 assists. He was captain the past two seasons and part of three Major Indoor Soccer League championship teams. A Toronto native, he also enjoyed a fine outdoor career and earned seven caps for the Canadian National Team.

Nelson, 31, a Bel Air High School and UMBC graduate, spent all 10 seasons of his professional career with the Blast and played on five championship teams. The defender played in 292 games and registered 300 blocks, also contributing 48 goals and 41 assists.

"Those were two players that helped us win a lot of games and championships," Blast general manager Kevin Healey said. "They were both hard-nosed players that understood their roles, and our goal as an organization now is to continue to find players like Robbie and Billy to help keep us on top."

Originally planning to play one more season, Aristodemo got an opportunity to coach and teach at Montverde Academy, a prep school outside of Orlando, Fla. He will coach the women's soccer program and also teach health.

"My time in Baltimore was the highlight of my indoor career, and the Blast hold a special place in my heart," Aristodemo said. "It was a special run, winning three titles and playing in a fourth championship game, and the Blast fans are the best in the league. They are passionate and knowledgable, and I always looked forward to playing home games here."

For Nelson, who is coaching a number of youth soccer club teams in the area, playing for the hometown team was a rewarding experience.

"To make it to the professional level is incredible in itself, but to be able to play in front of family and friends was a dream come true," he said. "It was also exciting to be so successful. To win five championships made it so much sweeter."

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