Report: Cleveland City Stars 4- Real Maryland 0
Real Mistake on the Lake
A second half blitz by the Cleveland City Stars (2-0-2) sunk Real Maryland (1-3-0) to its third defeat of the season.
With Philippe Bissohong and Devlin Barnes absent through injury and suspension respectively, head coach Silvino Gonzalo had to comprehensively reshuffle his line-up.
Gonzalo chose to go with a 4-4-2 instead of his preferred 4-3-3 formation. Matthew Eby made his first start of the season on the right side of defense with Stephen Basso pushed up to right midfield.
Meanwhile, Alfonso Martinez was not only included on the team sheet for the first time this season, but chosen to partner Daryl Ferguson in the center of the defense. Foday Kamara completed the backline on the left, while “Pepe” Maldonado got his first start of the season on the wing.
Up top, Ronald Cerritos partnered William Brindley with Nilson Perez relegated to the bench.
Despite the reshuffled line-up, Real Maryland started the game brightly. Perhaps bayoud by the fact they were playing their first game under sunny skies, the Monarchs took the opening exchanges to the City Stars and had a legitimate shout for a penalty after only four minutes.
Dennis Alas played a curling ball into Basso whose diagonal run took him into the box. The intervening City Stars defender looked to have played the ball with his hand before clearing to safety, but Referee Britton Maier seemed uninterested with the Monarchs’ shouts for a spot kick.
After a rough ten minutes Cleveland eventually settled into the match and began to pose problems for the Monarchs with their clever running and speed up top.
The City Stars created their first chance in the 17th minute when a cross from the right fell kindly for an unmarked Floyd Franks at the top of the box. The midfielder had time to line up his volley and sent a screamer that looked destined for the net, but Real Maryland goalkeeper Emilio Zelaya made an excellent diving save to parry the ball to safety.
Four minutes later, the Monarchs were back on the attack. Cerritos laid the ball off for Alas at the top of the box. The young Salvadorian connected well, but saw his blast flash just wide of the far post.
Cleveland thought they had taken the lead ten minutes shy of halftime. Adam Rudd rounded the Real Maryland defense and played the ball for Luke Williams to tap into an empty net, but the Assistant Referee’s flag was up. Much to the chagrin of the Cleveland’s Green Army supporters, the man with the flag adjudged Ruud’s pass was played forward to Williams who was in an offside position.
The City Stars next genuine chance came three minutes before half-time. Williams stepped inside Kamara and fired a shot to the near post. Zelaya went down the other way but somehow managed to get his foot on the ball to make yet another impressive save. In the following sequence, Rudd found himself with space at the top of the box but shot into the side netting.
Real Maryland’s last chance of the half came in stoppage time when Cerritos won a free kick at the top left corner of the box after he received a high boot to the face from a City Stars defender. Alas stepped up to the dead ball and curled it dangerously towards the upper near corner, but Richard Gilstrap was well positioned in the Cleveland goal to get over quickly to make the save.
Perhaps the worst part of the evening was when the whistle blew for halftime. After that nothing went right for the Monarchs and they ultimately paid the price for some slack defending in the second half.
Only three minutes after the restart, Real Maryland center back Daryl Ferguson misjudged a long ball. Anthony Stovall tracked down the loose ball and sent it across the face of goal. Ruud managed to direct the ball towards the net and it pinballed off Ferguson and Zelaya before barley squirting across the line.
Two minutes later, on what looked to be a carbon copy of the previous play, Ferguson once again misjudged a long ball from Neil Hlavaty. In walked Sallieu Bundu and he fired his shot into the upper corner past a stranded Zelaya.
14 minutes later, Cleveland effectively ended the match as a contest. Derek Potteiger broke free down the left and crossed to the far post. Williams headed the ball back across goal and Ruud was on hand to nod home his second of the match.
Cleveland completed the route six minutes from time. This time, McGregor found space on the left and his pinpoint cross found fellow substitute Ian Leibbrandt who firmly headed past Zelaya.
After the match, Basso admitted that the absence of Barnes and Bissohong had a major effect on tonight’s match. “It definitely played its’ roll tonight,” Basso said. “Our four defenders, me, Daryl [Ferguson], Devlin [Barnes], and Phil [Bissohong] are used to playing together since day one when we first started playing. When one gets hurt and the other gets a red card, that’s two defenders that you’ve got to put in that haven’t played with us and in the end I’m sure that was a huge factor.”
Real Maryland has a chance for revenge next Saturday when it takes on these same Cleveland City Stars at 7:30 PM at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
Click here for the official USL statistical match report: http://www.uslsoccer.com/stats/2008/650633.html
Click here for post game comments from Real Maryland coaches and players: https://realmaryland.us/html/notesquotesgame4.html
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