Preview: Real Maryland v. Cleveland City Stars

By Matthew Skinner

Real Maryland (3-4-0) aims to get its inaugural USL-2 season back on track when it hosts the high-flying Cleveland City Stars (4-1-3), Saturday at 7:30 PM at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

The Monarchs are currently in sixth position following their 3-0 away loss to the Harrisburg City Islanders. Speaking about last weekend’s defeat, head coach Silvino Gonzalo explains, “the team had great mental and physical energy going into the game, but we couldn’t keep the momentum. If we can play with the same intensity for the entire 90 minutes then we can play against anyone”.

Cleveland, on the other hand, arrives at the Maryland SoccerPlex on the back of a 2-2 draw with the Western Mass Pioneers. This result, coupled with the team’s 3-0 victories over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Bermuda Hogges respectively, have propelled City into second place in the USL-2 standings.

“Against Cleveland we will need to play an entirely different game as they are a great side,” Gonzalo said. “However, if the Monarchs put in the hard work, then it will be an evenly contested match”.

One player Real Maryland defenders will have to watch is City forward Sallieu Bundu. The talented Sierra Leone native and former Columbus Crew marksman has scored 4 goals in the last five games, making him the USL-2’s third highest scorer this season.

One player aiming to prevent Bundu from adding more goals to his tally is Real Maryland’s Philippe Bissohong. The Cameroonian defender has just returned from a three week injury layoff, but played in the final minutes of last weekend’s defeat.

“Bundu is a great player. He is both really strong and can hold the ball very well,” Bissohang notes. “Having said that, Daryl Ferguson did a good job in marking him throughout our previous encounter. He couldn’t turn and that’s the key, not allowing him the chance to turn. You have to be right on him or else he becomes dangerous if he’s allowed to turn”.

This will be the third time this season that the two teams have squared off against each other. Cleveland will be seeking revenge after the Monarchs overcame a 2-0 deficit in their previous encounter to win 3-2.

Real Maryland defender Marcos Chantel hopes that the Monarchs walk away from this fixture again with three points. The Brazilian promises, “the team will play hard and keep their heads up”.

A win this Saturday could elevate Real Maryland to as high as fourth place on the USL-2 ladder. Supporters are urged to come out and witness what promises to be an entertaining match.


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