On the Road with Real Maryland: Harrisburg, PA
Saturday May, 31
1:00 PM- The players arrive at the hotel
Daryl Ferguson and his mother are the first to arrive at the Hampden Inn in Germantown. The bus is all ready for the arriving Monarch players and fans, but a rainy afternoon seems to slow down arrivals.
Daryl Ferguson is the first Monarch's player to arrive
Finally the bus leaves around two. We are a little behind schedule, but no worries, we are on our way.
2:30 PM- the Pre game meal debacle starts
Real Maryland General Manager Bienvenido Martinez asks, the narrator, yours truly, to call the Olive Garden in Harrisburg and let them know that we are on our way and to please be ready for us.
I call and tell them that our group of 24 players and staff will be there in about an hour and to please be ready for us. The next question is whether or not we can pre order. The answer is “no” and the Olive Garden manager promptly hangs up as I was in the middle of saying, “Ok, but we are still on our way.”
As the bus ride continues Ronald Cerritos starts yelling like an 8-year-old boy, “I’m Hungry! It’s time for lunch.”
4:00 PM- The bus pulls up to the Olive Garden, Harrisburg, PA
Bienvenido Martinez walks into the Olive Garden and promptly walks out a minute later. “They are not ready for us,” he says. “The manager said he thought we weren’t coming.” Whoops! (Can you believe your narrator is still around to write this article?)
Yours truly walks into a very crowded Olive Garden and demands to see the manager. “Well, when I told you that you could not pre-order I figured you were not going to come,” the manager explains.
“This is awful,” Foday Kamara complains. “Our meal should be five hours before the match. This is way too late.”
In my defense, I told three different people we were coming. Daryl Ferguson, who was sitting in front of me on the bus, would later back me up. “I heard him make the call,” Ferguson said. “I was sitting in front of him and I heard him say that we were coming.”
Needless to say the players were pissed when the Olive Garden hostess told us they could seat us at different tables if we were willing to wait 30 minutes. It is well after four and we have to be at the stadium around 5:30!
Quick! Think! What do I do? The coach and others saw an Old Country Buffet on the same road. There is no way we’re going somewhere where everything is fried!
Yours truly takes out the phone and calls the Applebee’s about a mile down the road.
“Applebee’s, may I help you?”
“HELLO CAN YOU TAKE 24 PEOPLE IN THE NEXT TEN MINUTES!”
“Yes we can”
“THANK GOODNESS! OK WE WILL BE THERE IN 10 MINUTES!”
Back on the bus everyone goes and we make the short trip down Jonestown Road. Thankfully, they are ready for us at Applebee’s. Every player is served salad, fettuccini, and grilled chicken. The coaches sit at the bar and all of them, by coincidence, order bacon cheeseburgers. Coach Gonzalo gets his bacon cheeseburger without cheese. He always has to be difficult.
We’ve cut it very close, but we are finished and out the door by 5:15 with the stadium only a few miles away. It has been an adventure and some of the players are frustrated that the meal was so close to game-time, but for the most part it was disaster averted, barley.
The Applebee’s was very accommodating and they had everything out quickly. The bottom line, however, don’t expect Real Maryland to endorse the Harrisburg Olive Garden.
5:45 Arrive at the Skyline Sports Complex
Harrisburg’s stadium is located on an Island in the middle of the Susquehanna River overlooking the Harrisburg city skyline. The island is really cool. There is a baseball stadium and put-put golf. The soccer stadium is nestled into the bank of a hill.
Monarch Players make their way up the hill to the stadium
It is a great set-up, but the field is not in the best condition and even worse, there is a baseball field that extends onto the pitch from one of the corners.
The players take it in stride, however, warm up and prepare for the match. The locker rooms are very professionally set up and the players are able to get their mind off everything that has happened and finally focus on the match.
Starting at Shortstop for the Monarchs: Nilson Perez !
A big crowd has come from Maryland to support the Monarchs and they fill an entire stand! At points during the match, their chants of “REAL (bum bum) MARYLAND” drown out the Harrisburg fans! Real Maryland thanks its wonderful fans for making the trip and for their wonderful support!
Real Maryland fans with the Maryland flag!
Mrs. Ferguson, the Bassos and others watch warmups
The yellow shirts mark where the RMD fans are sitting
7:05 PM- Game-time
Once again, Real Maryland struggled on the road, and once again, just like the players, your narrator would much rather forget the match. The final score was 3-0 in favor of Harrisburg.
One to forget... Real Maryland falls 3-0 to Harrisburg
Real Maryland dominated the first 30 minutes creating numerous chances. Had they taken advantage of their opportunities, the outcome may have been very different.
9:30- On the road again
It’s back on the bus for the short ride home. Another road match and another loss, but the players are confident that they can change things around. In the back of the bus a group of players talk about what needs to change in order to get better results.
Later, Philippe Bissohong “youtubes” Cerritos on his I-phone and the players gather around to watch highlights of their captain. The Salvadorian maestro also regales his teammates with tales of his travels and experiences on and off the pitch.
Among the things the players learn about their captain is that he holds the record for most goals in the old MLS overtime shootout and that Cerritos was surrounded and almost lost his son as groups of Salvadorian fans converged around him Friday night at RFK when he went to watch his countrymen take on Guatemala in a friendly match.
Listening to Cerritos made the two hour trip seem like 20 minutes and suddenly we are back at the Hampden Inn in Germantown. It’s been a rough day all around and the players are more than happy to get into their cars and head for home.
The next road trip is back to Harrisburg and hopefully next time, the story will have a happier ending.
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