Report: Real Maryland 0 - L.A. Firpo 2
By Matt Skinner
Real Maryland went down 2-0 to El Salvador’s L.A. Firpo in front of a sold out Maryland SoccerPlex. Eduardo Campos’ strike in the 19th minute was followed up Carlos Calderon’s 7st minute penalty to award the Salvadoran visitors the much deserved win.
Heavy rain before the match did not deter the game’s 4,000 fans from arriving to witness the Monarchs take on one of the best teams in Central America and it was the visitors who settled in quickest when the game commenced.
Moving the ball around quickly in the early stages, L.A. Firpo’s first real chance of the game came in the 6th minute after a foul had been committed on Ramon Avila, 35 yards from goal. Emerson Veliz’s subsequent cross into the box was on target to meet the head of Fernando Leguizamon, but Monarch’s goalkeeper Emilio Zelaya swiftly jumped out to make the first of his many saves for the night.
Jorge Sanchez began another Firpo attack in the 9th minute, this time down the right-wing. The pacey midfielder was able to beat Monarchs defender Andy Kish, but his shot was intercepted and cleared by the timely arrival of midfielder Mateus Dos Anjos.
The Monarchs replied to Firpo’s advances in the 11th minute with some skilled passing through the midfield. The attack began down the left wing with Dos Anjos, who found Angel Higuera free in the center of the field. Reacting quickly, Higuera passed the ball to Muner Hassan who in turn moved the ball forward for striker Ronald Cerritos to latch on to. While the creativity was evident, the striker’s run into the box was met with three L.A. Firpo defenders, who easily closed down the Salvadoran’s advances.
L.A. Firpo nearly had its first goal in the 15th minute after defender Marcus Chantel had slipped due to the condition of the wet grass during his one-on-one with striker Avila. Seizing to capitalize on the defender’s timely misfortune, the Chilean ran forward into the newly available space but his shot went wide.
L.A. Firpo’s first goal of the game arrived in the 19th minute after some defensive errors inside the Maryland 18-yard box. Campos saw his opportunity to strike after noticing he was not being marked and ran onto the ball. His strike struck the crossbar with ferocity before bouncing down into Zelaya’s net to hand the visiting team the lead.
The Monarchs responded almost immediately with a surging run by Dos Anjos down the left wing. The Brazilian managed to beat two defenders before crossing the ball into Firpo’s penalty box for the incoming William Brindley to connect with. Unfortunately for the pair, the ball sailed just wide of the forwards’s boot and went out.
The Monarchs had another opportunity to score in the 40th minute after a lapse in L.A. Firpo’s defense. Alas’ corner kick from the left flew over many players and managed to connect with the head of the unmarked Brindley. To the relief of goalkeeper Juan Jose Gomez, the American’s header bounced down just wide of the right goal post.
The second half began for the Monarchs with some more promising interplay between midfielders Higuera and Hassan, with the latter setting up a long ball for Dos Anjos to connect with in the 51st minute. The winger controlled the ball and attempted a shot from 25 yards out which flew over the crossbar.
The Salvadoran side took notice of Maryland’s new found confidence and replied two minutes later inside the 18-yard box when Campos’s strike again managed to hit the upright woodwork. However, this time the ball bounced out and Zelaya covered it.
L.A. Firpo kept applying the pressure and was rewarded with a penalty kick in the 71st minute. Monteagudo intercepted a ball that both substitute defender Daryl Ferguson and Chantel failed to clear and the Salvadoran was goal-bound until Devlin Barnes brought him down in the area. The referee saw no other alternative but to award the midfielder with a penalty kick. Calderon coolly stepped up to the penalty area and slotted the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-0 to the visitors.
In the 84th minute, Barnes was awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal. The defender crosses it in for Hassan who side-steps the oncoming Firpo defense. The midfielder lays the ball up for Dennis Alas who tries his luck on goal. His shot is goal-bound but denied by substitute goalkeeper Guillermo Pino, who manages to block the shot with his outstretched arm.
On the brink of full-time, Alas again tried to salvage a goal for the home side by shooting from 35-yards. The shot was on course again but like last time, Pino is there again to deny the Monarchs’ play-maker.
SPONSORS & PARTNERS: