Player Feature: Daryl Ferguson
Until the debacle in Cleveland, Real Maryland had only conceded two goals in three games and defender Daryl Ferguson led the way. An uncompromising center back, Ferguson is the deputy of the Real Maryland backline. Built like a rock, you would not want to go into a one on one challenge with the man who has dominated PG County, St. John’s College High School, the Caribbean and now the USL.
Born in Prince Gorges County, Ferguson played his whole life for the BSU Tsunami. His club team only entered the state cup once, but made it to the semi-finals.
Ferguson played his high school ball for St. John’s College High School in Washington D.C.
Ferguson led a swarming defense that shutout the
Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2-0
After a solid career at St. John’s, Ferguson was set to hang up his boots and join the merchant marines. In fact, Ferguson was going through the final processing stages when he had a change of heart and decided to go to Seton Hill to be a part of the brand new soccer program.
“The Seton Hill coach kept calling me every week trying to get me to come up,” Ferguson said in a telephone interview. “I went up there to visit, I liked the school, and it made me change my mind at the last minute.”
Ferguson also had personal ties to the school based about 35 miles east of Pittsburgh. His mom attended Seton Hill when it was an all girls school. In fact, Ferguson’s freshmen year was also the first year that men were admitted to Seton Hill. Ferguson estimates the ratio of females to males in that first year was four or five to one. “It was fun times,” Ferguson simply states.
Back on the pitch, Seton Hill spent its first three seasons in the NAIA because it was a new program. Ferguson made Third Team All Conference his freshmen year and First Team All Conference the next two seasons. In his final season, the Seton Hill Griffins moved to NCAA division II and the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
As well as excelling for the Griffins, Ferguson also spent a season with the DC United U-19 team. Ferguson did not even know about the team, but the night before the tryout a former club-mate called and asked if he wanted to go. “I was like, uh, alright, I guess I’ll go,” Ferguson recalls. “So I tried out and like a week later, the coach called me back and said he wanted me to join the team.”
After a successful season with DC United and Seton Hill, Ferguson was resting in his home during winter break when the phone rang. “My College coach called me and said that there was a new PDL (Player Developmental League) team in Delaware called the Delaware Dynasty, that he had spoken to the coach and he thought I should try out. So I did. I was the first player to sign for that organization and I played for the Dynasty for two years.”
Despite all of his success on the field, Ferguson planned to go to medical school, but in his junior season Ferguson’s coach convinced him that he should try and play after college. Ferguson consulted his family and his coaches at the Dynasty and decided that he was going to go for it.
“I started to work really hard in the off-season. I still kept up with my grades and perusing med school. I took the MCATS and applied to medical schools as if I wasn’t going to play, just in case something happened.”
Things did happen for Ferguson, however, as he went to the USL Combine and received an e-mail from the Charleston Battery within a week.
Ferguson trained with the South Carolina club for a month, but was not offered a spot on the roster. “The coaches liked me there and it was a fun time. They just said they wanted me to develop more. So I did one more year of PDL.”
Not to be deterred by this setback, Ferguson continued to work hard and while playing for Delaware Ferguson received a call from the Barbados U-23 team. Ferguson’s mother is Barbadian making Ferguson eligible for the island’s national team.
Ferguson traveled to Barbados and impressed the coaches. He was named to the roster for Olympic qualifying. After playing in two exhibition matches, Ferguson went with the team to Aruba and saw action in all three qualifying matches of an unsuccessful campaign. “We did well,” Ferguson says. “We had to beat Jamaica in our final game to progress to the next round, but unfortunately we didn’t.”
Playing in Olympic Qualifying was an experience Ferguson says he will never forget. “It was ridiculous,” Ferguson said of the atmosphere in Aruba. “I enjoyed it so much. It was like the environment of playing for DC United. It was probably better than that because it’s the pride of a country. Playing in that type of atmosphere was new to me and it was a great experience.”
Following his performances in Aruba, Ferguson has been placed in the pool for the full national team and Ferguson is relishing the prospect of continuing to play on the international stage.
“I was supposed to play in the first two legs against Dominica [in the first round of CONCACAF Qualifying for the 2010 World Cup] along with six other guys, but they didn’t fly us in because they are having money problems. They don’t have the funding right now to fly guys in and house them and things like that.”
In fact, Ferguson got a call from the Barbados Football Association (BFA) a few weeks ago letting him know that they were thinking about him for the May 11th friendly with Trinidad and Tobago (Barbados lost 3-0). Due to a lack of funding, however, the BFA decided to use locally based players.
Ferguson is also in line to play for Barbados when they take on the USA over two legs (June 16 in the US and June 22 in Barbados) in the second round of CONCACAF qualifying.
“They want me to come but it’s all about the funding. So they’re trying to work things out. I told them I’m willing to help pay for the trip because I think that playing in a game against a team as big as the US will give me a lot of exposure.”
For Ferguson, playing against the United States in World Cup Qualifying would be a dream come true.
“It would be amazing to play against guys you see playing on TV. You’re just thinking, ‘man I want to get to that level.’ It would also be amazing just to play in that type of atmosphere.”
Even though he was born in the US, Ferguson has no doubts about who he will root for come game time.
“I don’t think there would be any confusion. I’m a US citizen but I also have strong Caribbean roots. So whenever I watch a US game against maybe Trinidad or Jamaica I just sit and watch the game. I don’t root for any team, but on June 6th, I will be rooting for Barbados since I’m now a citizen of Barbados.”
As Ferguson continues his work in hopes of his first full international appearance with Barbados, he is relishing the opportunity to play professional soccer in his home state.
Ferguson in full flight
“It’s a blessing to play for Real Maryland because I get to stay close to my family. Just to have the opportunity to play professional soccer is something most people don’t get to do and I don’t take it for granted. I go to practice and work hard everyday, and ask coaches what I need to do to improve. It’s just a blessing in disguise I guess to play in a place you grew up and to have the support from family and friends that you’ve known all your life.”
Ferguson actually missed the first Real Maryland tryout because he was in Aruba with the Barbados Olympic team, but was invited for a trial by head coach Silvino Gonzalo at the suggestion of Real Maryland and former Seton Hill teammate Clint Loughner.
Now that he is on the team, Ferguson is happy to team up with Loughner once again. “It’s good having someone on your team that you’ve known before you get there. It helps with the comfort level.”
As for the rest of his teammates, Ferguson is just as comfortable with them as he is with Loughner.
“We have a great group of guys. You don’t really see any cliques or anything even though some guys aren’t fluent in English. We still find a way to communicate which is funny sometimes. It’s funny the way we communicate, but I think we have a great group of guys here and we should do pretty well this year.”
Despite a rough start to the season and a 4-0 loss to Cleveland last weekend, Ferguson is confident Real Maryland will climb back up the table.
“I think we’re going to be fine. We play a lot of quick one touch-two touch. We like to attack at a quick pace. So in the back, if we can limit the amount of goals we concede, then I think we will be in contention late in the season as well as into the playoffs.”
Off the field, Ferguson wears many hats. He teaches Pre-Algebra at Charles Carroll Middle school, works for DC United, and the Washington Nationals.
“I’ve always been good with math and I always work well with kids,” Ferguson says of his teaching job. “So I think it’s something that, if med school doesn’t work out, I could see myself doing. But I’d probably want to teach at the high school level.”
For DC United, Ferguson works on the production team. He helps to set up the field, he directs the ball boys, and tells the players when to come out of the tunnel. During the games, Ferguson acts as a liaison with the TV crews, giving them information such as who got a yellow card or who was just substituted.
For the Nats, Ferguson works on the tarp crew.
“It’s a little time consuming,” Ferguson says of his many different commitments. “I’m always running around, but I can’t stand in one spot. I like being busy.”
For Ferguson, the plan is to remain in soccer for a few more years and then go back medical school with the hopes of becoming an OBGYN or a neuro surgeon. Ferguson says he still studies a few times a week so that everything is fresh in his mind, but admits that if the opportunities on the pitch continue to come his way, he will continue to take them. “If the opportunity to play at higher levels comes up, then ill probably take it. I would love to play in MLS or overseas. Even USL-1 is a step up.”
If Ferguson’s early season form continues, he might have to put medical school on hold for a long time.
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