Preview: Real Maryland v. UMBC
Monarchs travel to Baltimore for Fifth Match of the Pre-season
Tomorrow, Real Maryland travels to the University of Maryland Baltimore County to take on the Retrievers in its first of two final pre-season games this weekend.
After UMBC, Real will play host to West Virginia on Saturday night, 6:00 PM at the Maryland SoccerPlex in its final warm-up before the start of the USL-2 season next Sunday.
“We don’t have anything new we really need to work on,” head coach Silvino Gonzalo said in a telephone interview. “We are using these final matches just to make sure we are playing as a unit and are ready for the 20th.”
Gonzalo says every player will see time this weekend as the coaching staff makes its final decisions for next week’s starting XI.
Real Maryland comes into the game on the back of a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace Baltimore in its first ever match-up versus a USL opponent. “I’ve been telling the players all week that I was happy with their performance on Saturday,” Gonzalo said. “We need to use these two final pre-season games to make sure we take the necessary steps forward and not any steps backwards.”
Real Maryland is faced with a few injury concerns going into this weekend’s matches. Angel Higueras took a knock in the opening exchanges with Crystal and has been out of practice all week. Muner Hassen is still struggling with a weak ankle he hurt against American University, and Bairon Ferrufino is still sidelined with a knee injury suffered in training a few weeks ago.
2 Real Maryland Players to Watch
Against Crystal Palace Baltimore, Real Maryland coach Silvino Gonzalo used substitute Clint Loughner to great effect. Gonzalo inserted Loughner into the “Makelele role” (named after the current Chelsea FC midfielder who is considered one of the best at this position), sitting just in front of the back four, breaking up attacks, and distributing the ball to players further up the field. Loughner’s introduction for the final 15 minutes effectively killed off a Palace attack that was beginning to look more and more likely to find the equalizer. Loughner is skilled, a tough tackler, and has good vision. All attributes which will allow him to excel, not only in the midfield holding roll, but in more advanced positions as well.
Throughout the Crystal Palace game, Dennis Alas was spraying dangerous long balls all over the field. The crowd on hand was treated to the full range of Alas’s passing, and it was his precise long ball, played right onto the foot of Nilson Perez that left the Palace backline embarrassed as Perez walked in to score the games only goal.
UMBC is an NCAA Division I college team that competes in the America East Conference. Like the other college teams Real Maryland has played, UMBC is in their spring training period- a season sanctioned by the NCAA where teams are allowed to train and play unofficial matches against pro teams and other colleges. UMBC finished last season with an overall record of 8-7-5 and 4th in America East play with a 3-3-2 record. UMBC lost in the Semifinals of the America East Conference tournament 1-0 to Binghamton.
2 UMBC Players to Watch
Forward Andrew Gillis led the Retrievers in goals scored last season with five goals from 12 shots including 2 game winners.
Right behind Gillis was junior Kevin Gnatiko who racked up four goals and four assists. The Montgomery Village native was an All-Met selection at Watkins Mill high school. Real Maryland will need to be on its toes to deal with the pace of the former track star.
***NOTE: The time of the match has been changed from 4:00 to 5:30 PM. The game will still be held at UMBC’s soccer stadium and the match is free of charge.
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