Report: Real Maryland 0 - Charlotte Eagles 1
By Max Lom
The Monarchs dropped a tough 1-0 contest with the league-leading Charlotte Eagles Saturday night at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Despite playing well throughout the match and having an impressive share of possession, Real Maryland fell after Joe Kabwe took advantage of his opportunity for the Eagles, who won their 8th game of the year in USL-2.
With the loss, the Monarchs fall seven points behind the last playoff spot, which is currently occupied by the Richmond Kickers, who have 16 points on the season.
Charlotte got off to a great start in the match, as some excellent interplay between midfielder Josh Rife and forward Rob Ssejjemba led to Rife narrowly missing to the left of goal from 18 yards away.
Real Maryland responded immediately, and in the 5th minute a partial clearance led to Ronald Cerritos attempting a dangerous volley which was only just deflected out for a corner.
Through the first quarter of the game, the teams were both playing flowing soccer from end-to-end. The game was interrupted briefly in the 20th minute by a massive collision between Charlotte goalkeeper Terry Boss and Maryland forward Nilson Perez. Perez was down for several minutes, but was able to play on.
In the 31st minute, Charlotte had another great chance as Ssejjemba got free for a header but missed it over the crossbar. Once again, Maryland countered as midfield catalyst Dennis Alas got free on the right side and played a ball across goal which was only just out of reach of the sprawling Perez on the far post.
A hopeful, long-distance volley effort from Angel Higueras landed wide of the goal, and was the last shot of the half for the Monarchs, in 1st half stoppage time, as both teams went into the break scoreless.
Maryland came out playing very well in the 2nd half, and should have taken the lead in the 49th minute. Alas struck a ferocious free kick from the right side which was saved by Boss, but a rebound fell right to Maryland defender Andy Kish who had the entire goal at his disposal but put the ball over.
The missed chance seemed to deflate the home side as Charlotte began to take control of the game. A mistake in defense by Marcos Chantal almost gave them the lead in the 53rd minute as Jorge Hererra missed his chance at goal when he mis-hit his shot.
In the 65th minute, some lazy defending by Maryland, coupled with questionable positioning by goalkeeper Emilio Zelaya, allowed the dangerous Dustin Swineheart, USL-2’s leading scorer, in on goal, but he struck his shot high and wide of the goal.
Charlotte finally broke through in the 73rd minute after a long throw was flicked on by Swineheart to Joe Kabwe who finished past Zelaya to take the lead.
The Monarchs again tried to come back, but a promising through ball to Perez didn’t reach him after the Charlotte defense was able to track back in time to clear the ball.
Alas had one last chance for the team in the 86th minute when he sent one of his trademark, blistering free kicks just wide of the goal from 35 yards away.
Maryland pushed forward for the remaining minutes, which left them exposed in defense, but Zelaya made several saves to keep the game at 1-0, however time ran out and the Monarchs slumped to their fourth straight league defeat.
Next up for the team is a Tuesday trip to the Carolina Railhawks of USL-1 for a second round contest in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Following that, a Friday night exhibition against Luis Angel Firpo of El Salvador will cap another busy week before they play again in the league against Crystal Palace Baltimore on June 29.
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