Preview: Real Maryland v. Western Mass
For the first time in its history, Real Maryland will leave the comfort of the Maryland SoccerPlex and travel to Ludlow, Massachusetts for a Saturday night match-up with the Western Mass Pioneers.
In a season of firsts, Real Maryland not only faces its first road challenge, but the Monarchs must also play their first game without inspirational captain Ronald Cerritos absent through suspension.
“It will definitely hurt us not having him [Cerritos] there,” striker William Brindley said in the parking lot before yesterday’s practice. “He is our leader, but we got some good players coming off the bench so hopefully our team will be just as strong.”
Coach Silvino Gonzalo and his charges do not seem at all daunted by having to play on the road. While his players agree that it’s nice to have support from the home fans, they all have previous experience playing games in unfamiliar and hostel environments.
“We [Real Maryland] have never been on the road so it’s something new and we’ll see what happens,” said defender Philipe Bissohong, “but I think all of us have played somewhere where we’ve had to travel.”
The Monarchs head into Western Mass on the back of a 2-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds last weekend in a game called in the 89th minute due to lightning in the area.
The Pioneers, on the other hand, have not played since their 1-nil victory over Real Maryland on April 20th.
Many of the Monarch players see this game as a chance for revenge after suffering their opening day defeat to these same Pioneers, but the team knows that it must first take care of its own responsibilities.
“There’s definitely a thought of getting back at them,” left back Stephen Basso said before practice yesterday. “But it’s more of us concentrating on ourselves and playing together as a team. We can’t really think about revenge and getting back at teams we lose to in our first season. No rivalry has been established. So let’s just go out and try and win this game. That’s the first thing on our minds.”
Two Real Maryland Players to Watch:
Monarchs striker William Brindley etched his name into the Real Maryland history books when he scored the franchises first ever goal with his sixth minute strike against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. His hard running and constant pressure proved to be a Real problem for the Riverhounds backline. Brindley almost sneaked in a second goal when he came within inches of stealing the ball right off the foot of the Riverhounds goalie. Brindley is a strong striker who is adept at holding the ball and bringing his teammates into the play, but give him a run at goal and he will punish you just as he did against Pittsburgh.
If you rarely follow soccer, then you probably won’t pay much attention to Real Maryland left-back Stephen Basso. The defender never does any stopovers, nor does he go on long mazy dribbles, leaving the opposition in his wake. Nevertheless, Basso is the player everybody wants on their team. He is an uncompromising defender who hardly ever gets beat. Basso has great position sense, is strong in possession and dangerous when he decides to attack down the flank. As he showed on a few occasions against Pittsburgh, Basso is also has the vision to play that one through-ball that is capable ripping the opposition defense to shreds.
2 Western Mass Players to Watch
Real Maryland players and fans alike will remember Western Mass forward Neil Krause. The burly striker had only one chance in the first meeting, but he took it with great aplomb, breaking Real Maryland hearts in the process. The Real Maryland rearguard will have to watch him closely in the rematch, because they know now that one chance is all he needs.
Fredericksburg, Virginia native and former Hartford University standout Matt Glaeser made a string of crucial saves to preserve the 1-0 victory for Western Mass the last time these two teams met. Glaeser has a commanding presence in his box and, despite being a tall lad, gets down well. Long crosses into the box are not the way to go in this one and Real Maryland will need to be precise in their finishing if they are not to be denied again.
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