BALTIMORE, Md. — The Baltimore Blast - Harrisburg Heat rivalry is long and storied.
"I think it's always been a big rival since the old days," said Blast goalkeeper William Vanzela.
"If you look back over the years, back 20-25 years, it's always been a big rivalry and playoff atmosphere games," added Blast captain Tony Donatelli.
On Saturday, when the Heat come to Towson to play the Blast for the first time this season, something will be definitely be different.
"Obviously they have a new coach who we played with for a long time, who has been in this organization for a long time, who knows our team inside and out," said Donatelli.
He's talking about Pat Healy.
"Pat is on the other side of the coin right now. It's going to be pretty weird to play against him," said Vanzela.
Healey is in his first year as Heat Head Coach and General Manager. Before Harrisburg the Baltimore area native spent ten years playing for the Blast, becoming one of the best defenders in the Major Arena Soccer League.
"It's definitely going to be weird," said Donatelli. "It's going to be different."
Healey feels the same way in a sense.
"Yeah, maybe this first game at Baltimore you're looking at it as a special thing," he said. "But, for me it really just is another game. I don't think it'll be too different. I'm just excited."
There's no one who knows Pat Healey better than Blast Head Coach and Hall of Famer Danny Kelly. He will now look over and see Healey as his counterpart. But he said it's not going to be strange. He's been through this song and dance before.
"To be honest, it's not going to be weird at all," said Kelly. "I faced Denison Cabral, Tarik Walker, guys that I was teammates with. This is business and in professional sports these are things that go on. It's just another day on the job."
Kickoff between Healey's Heat (1-4) and Kelly's Blast (4-2) is set for Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. inside SECU Arena.