On the Road with Real Maryland: Cleveland, OH

Friday May 9, 2008


4:30 PM- The Players Arrive at the Hampton Inn, Germantown

There is never a dull moment at Real Maryland. William Brindley is one of the first players to arrive. But he locks himself out of his car. We haven’t even left the parking lot and already our first catastrophe!

Brindley heads inside the Hampton Inn to get a metal hanger. Alfonso Martinez pulls up in his Scion and begins to laugh as the first thing he sees is Brindley trying to break into his own car. He offers to help while Stephen Basso and Daryl Ferguson prefer to point and laugh instead.

                                  What Real Maryland players do in their spare time

5:00- On the Bus


The players throw their stuff into the storage compartment under the bus and begin to climb in. This week the boys are much happier with their surroundings. The bus is much bigger and the players have space to stretch out and relax. The bus also has TV’s and Ronald Cerritos looks at a collection of DVDs to decide what the team should watch.

                                  Hello Emilio! Zelaya waves to the camera as the players

                                  settle in for the long ride to Cleveland, Ohio

5:20- The Bus Leaves the Hampton Inn


The players and coaches are finally all settled and the bus pulls out of the parking lot and onto route 118 towards 270. The team decides on “All the Goals of the 2006 World Cup” as their first DVD for the trip. Finally we are on our way. Next stop; Cleveland for Round 4 of the USL-2 season!

                                  On the road again... Got to love the traffic on I-270!

8:24- First Rest Stop

This time we make it about three hours before our first stop. We are somewhere in Pennsylvania off I-76. Everyone goes through the normal rest stop routine. First the players get out and stretch. Second they head for the bathrooms and third it’s off to the general store for some junk food.

Goalkeeper Emilio Zelaya is caught red faced as teammates laugh at him for trying on a cheap pair of red rimmed sunglasses.

Back on the bus, equipment manager Nestor and General Manager Bienvenido Martinez pass out the subway sandwiches, UTZ chips, and bottles of water. This week’s picks are chicken, ham and cheese, or turkey.

                                  Dinner is served

As the bus pulls back on the road, Nestor, Christian Montero, Nilson Perez and Dennis Alas break out the Dominos while the movie choice for the next segment is “We Were Soldiers”. Kind of a gory movie for a bus ride the night before a game…

Saturday May 10, 2008


12:10 AM- Real Maryland Arrives at the Wyndham Hotel


Amazingly, the bus makes no more stops and we head straight to Cleveland. Having a bigger bus with TVs and a bathroom really helps! The Wyndham is very nice and the front desk already has the keys waiting for the players when they walk into the lobby. Less than 20 minutes later the players are already in their rooms.

                                  Finally here! The players enter the Wyndham hotel

The Cleveland City Stars are one of the best run operations in USL-2. They do everything first class and the Wyndham hotel in downtown Cleveland is no exception. Not only is the hotel nice, but it is near everything in downtown Cleveland and is only a few minutes from the stadium.

Tomorrow is a big day. Unlike last weekend, the trip will be more structured. There will be a mandatory team breakfast followed by a walkthrough at the stadium. The players better get their rest because tomorrow will be a full day.

9:30 AM- Team Breakfast


The team meets in the lobby and heads around the corner to a small restaurant called the Huron Square Deli. Coffee is only 99 cents and the food is more then edible. It’s the perfect fuel for a short walk.

                                  The players meet in the lobby for breakfest

                                  MMM 99Cent coffee! The players will be wired all day long!

                         Gonzalo: Do I have to pay for these guys?

11:15 AM- A Brisk Walk

After breakfast the team heads down to the field for a walk about. The field is turf and in good conditions. The players check out the battle ground and soak in some sun. Then it’s back to the hotel for some R&R before lunch.

                                  The players enter the field

                                  Checking the conditions...

                         Zelaya hopes to protect his net while the other                        

                                 players hope to send ripples through the back of it

                                 William Brindley takes in some sun... We're still  not quite

                                 sure what this has to do with checking the conditions of the                                   


2:30 PM- Lunch


The team meets downstairs in the hotel for lunch. The meal at the Wyndham hotel is almost identical to the one the team had last week at the Clarion in Western Mass. The menu consisted of salad, grilled chicken, pasta, and breadsticks. The players take in their carbs and begin to hydrate.

4:30 PM- Checkout


The players check out of their rooms and head to the bus. The stadium is close so there is time to kill. The coaches decide to take the team for a pre game walk by Lake Erie.

Lake Erie is the smallest of the five Great Lakes, but the 10th largest lake in the world stretching 241 miles long and 57 miles wide.

The bus pulls up to the boardwalk next to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Browns Football Stadium. Unfortunately we are here to work and there is little time to explore. After 20 minutes the players are back on the bus and heading for the stadium.

                                   The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the foreground with

                                   the Cleveland Browns Stadium behind it

5:30 PM- Arrive at Krenzler Field

As the players already did their walkthrough, they get off the bus and head right for the lockeroom. After changing, the players take the field.

It is a beautiful night. Not a cloud in the sky and for the first time in team history, it looks like Real Maryland is going to have a game where it’s not raining.

The synthetic turf field on the campus of Cleveland State University is laid out against a backdrop of the city skyline making it a really cool location to play a game.

                                  Get your game faces on boys!


As the players begin to get touches on the ball, fans begin to pile into the stadium. The Cleveland’s supporters are known as “The Green Army”, and they are busy putting up their signs and getting their flags together.

                                  The Green Army prepare for the match

Meanwhile, the Cleveland City Stars take care of the Real Maryland staff. Real Maryland management is invited into the VIP tent and offered pene pasta in a spicy marinara sauce, pizza bread and a verity of drinks. Well done Cleveland City!

6:50 PM- The Teams Take the Field


The starting XI for Real Maryland takes the field in their all yellow jerseys. As they head towards the center circle the Green Army starts singing to the tune of the Beatles classic Yellow Submarine, “We all laugh at a yellow football team, a yellow football team, a yellow football team,” which you have to admit is pretty clever.

                                  Taking the field

                                  Line-ups and introductions

“It doesn’t bother me,” Stephen Basso said after the match. “It’s just part of the game. You have to let it go.”

Following the National anthem the Cleveland City Star players kick signed balls into the crowd. Of course one of them falls right into the hands of Real Maryland owner Victor Moran!

7:00 PM- Game Time

                                  Real Maryland lines-up for kick-off


Real Maryland would rather forget about the game. After a strong first half, nothing went right for Real Maryland. After conceding two goals in two minutes, Real Maryland was left chasing the game, but to no avail.

To Read about the game click here- MATCH REPORT

                    1st-half action

9:45- Back on the Bus


With everyone in a bad mood, it’s going to be a looooooong bus ride back to Maryland. Especially considering that the first thing the coaching staff decides to do is replay the game on the bus.

The players take it in stride, however, and watch the match intently to try and learn from their mistakes and see what they can do better next weekend when the two teams square off again.

10:00- Fill‘er up


The bus pulls into an Ohio rest stop to get gas. The players get off to get some food and go to the bathroom. No one wants to even guess how much it will cost to fill the gas tank of such a big bus! Once everyone is back on the bus and the tank is full, it’s time to settle in for the long ride home. Oh, and to continue watching the second half debacle.

Sunday May 11, 2008

3:26 AM- Second Rest Stop


The bus driver needs some air and to go for a little walk so he pulls into a PA rest stop.

“How much longer?” Head coach Silvino Gonzalo asks.

“We’re about two hours away,” the bus driver responds. “But I’m going to try and make it in an hour and a half.”

Everyone is either asleep or exhausted. Only Gonzalo, General Manager Bienvenido Martinez, and team equipment manager Nestor venture off the bus. Gonzalo returns with an ice cream bar and eats it with the happiness of a kid who just had a visit from the Good Humor truck.

5:00 AM- Back at the Hampton Inn


Finally! The bus pulls into the Hampton Inn parking lot in Germantown. Once again not much is said as the players get off the bus and try and wake themselves up before getting in their cars to drive home.

It’s the last road trip for a while. The next two games are at home before the team travels to Harrisburg, but in this business a 2.5 hour trip hardly qualifies as being “on the road”.

Click here to view all the Photos from the Cleveland trip: PHOTOS  


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