Preview: Real Maryland v. Crystal Palace Baltimore
By Matt Skinner
Real Maryland (3-7-0) will be hoping to put a dent in USL-2 local rivals Crystal Palace Baltimore’s (6-3-1) season when the two teams clash this Sunday at 4PM at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
The Monarchs have succumbed to two narrow defeats from as many games despite improved performances on the field. The team is currently seventh in the table after falling last Saturday to league leaders Charlotte 1-0 in a tightly contested match.
The Maryland outfit was unable to turn its fortunes around in time for its Tuesday’s US Open Cup fixture, also losing to the Carolina Railhawks 1-0. Although in charge of the game for long periods of time, Real Maryland fell to the USL-1 side after the Railhawks converted a penalty kick in the 90th minute.
“I am very proud of the team’s performance” remarked head coach Silvino Gonzalo after the US Open Cup game. “We played very well against Carolina. We were tight in defense but still managed to move the ball around up field. We didn’t give away many chances but unfortunately we conceded from a penalty kick.”
Third place Crystal Palace Baltimore arrive at the Maryland SoccerPlex on the back of some successful results. The team travelled to Wilmington last Tuesday for their USL-2 fixture and left with a 2-2 draw. Not having a USL-2 game last weekend, Palace was rested for its US Open Cup second round fixture away to fellow USL-2 team Harrisburg.
It took a penalty shoot out to decide the fate of both teams after the game was leveled at 2-2 after 120 minutes. Baltimore won 3-1 on penalties and will now face play MLS side New York Red Bulls in the third round.
Adding flavor to the fixture will be the DeOrsey Maryland Cup, which is awarded to the aggregate winner of all USL-2 matches contested between the two Maryland teams. After downing Palace 1-0 in pre-season, the Monarchs are aiming to have one hand gripped firmly on the trophy at the end of full time Sunday.
“We definitely want to win this game because it’s a big rivalry,” explains Monarchs forward William Brindley. “We beat Palace in pre-season so they will be gunning for us this time. They’ve had a very good season so far.”
The Monarchs will be wary of Palace’s in form forward Gary Brooks. The Jamaica native has currently scored 6 goals in 9 games and is the USL-2’s second leading goal scorer. Fortunately for Gonzalo, he will have the services of Barbadian defender Daryl Ferguson who has returned from international duty.
This will be an action packed weekend for the Monarchs, who first face Salvadorian juggernauts L.A. Firpo on Friday at 8PM before squaring off against Crystal Palace Baltimore on Sunday. Both fixtures will be played at the Maryland SoccerPlex and supporters are encouraged to come and cheer their team on!
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