Preview: Harrisburg v. Real Maryland

By Matthew Skinner

Real Maryland (3-5-0) hits the road once more in search of its first away points of the season when it faces the Harrisburg City Islanders (3-1-5), Saturday at 7:05PM at the Skyline Sports Complex.

The Maryland outfit has dropped to 7th position on the USL-2 table following their 2-1 defeat to the Cleveland City Stars last weekend. After defending their 1-0 lead for most of the game, courtesy of Nilson Perez’s goal in the 33rd minute, the Monarch’s succumbed to a late Cleveland brace which began with a Sallieu Bundu strike in the 85th minute and ended with Mark Schulte’s header in stoppage time.

“The game against Harrisburg will be very tough” assistant first team and Super 20s head coach Roger Fernandez. “During training this week, the players concentrated on keeping the ball and avoiding the little mistakes that cost us against Cleveland”.

The Islanders currently sit 5th on the table after their 1-0 victory away to Crystal Palace Baltimore last weekend. After a slow beginning to the season, the Pennsylvania club has rediscovered the same form that made them last season’s USL-2 champions. The team has recently notched up three wins from as many games.

One player leading the Islander’s revival is midfielder Brian Ombiji. The Kenyan is known for his fast runs from the center of the field as well as his eye for goal. In recent weeks, the midfielder has scored in both the 4-1 drubbing of the Richmond Kickers and the match winner against Palace.

This will be the Monarch’s second game in the span of 24 hours after their US Open Cup Round 1 fixture against the New York Pancyprian Freedoms was rescheduled for Friday night. Coach Silvino Gonzalo will be in the difficult position of selecting fresh players for the Harrisburg tie and hoping to avoid any injuries from their US Open Cup clash. He will also be without defender Daryl Ferguson who is on national team duty with Barbados.

“This match will be very important to us” explains Gonzalo. “Harrisburg is a very good team who can both hold the ball and distribute it up the field quickly. It will be a difficult game for those players who will also play against the Freedoms the night before.”

This will be the second time that the two teams have played against each other this season. The Monarchs will be out to restore their reputation after being simply outclassed by the Islanders 3-0 last month.

A win for the Monarch’s this weekend could elevate the team to 6th place on the ladder. Fans are urged to make the short trip up to Pennsylvania this weekend in what promises to be an exciting match.


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