Monarchs with a Real chance in '10

Monarchs look to take United Soccer Leagues-Second Division title

by Dan Greenberg | Staff Writer

Now in its third year of existence, Real Maryland Football Club has a clearly defined goal entering the 2010 United Soccer Leagues-Second Division season.

"We obviously want to win the whole thing this year," said head coach Anthony Hudson. "The first year, we won three games. We won eight last year and got to the playoffs. We certainly improved the squad, so our goal is, certainly, to win the championship."

The pieces are all in place, according to Hudson, but more importantly, "they know how to play within a system, whereas some guys did more individual stuff last year." Expectations will be higher when the Monarchs kick off their season April 17 against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, even with almost an entirely new core.

It starts up top, where the Monarchs showcase their most explosive striker tandem yet. Veteran Hamed Diallo, formerly of the USL-First Division's Carolina RailHawks, owns speed belying his 33 years of age. An Ivory Coast national team player, Diallo twice led French Ligue 2 in scoring as a youngster, and topped the RailHawks in scoring two years ago.

His partner is even swifter and a decade younger: Loyola College alumnus Jamie Darvill, a two-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

"Those two guys complement each other real well," Hudson said. "Darvill just doesn't stop running; he scored a load of goals at the collegiate level."

The midfield has even greater pedigree, with players Hudson describes across the board as "hard-working." It welcomes back veteran Monarch Sean Rush, who scored the team's first goal of the season a year ago. He will be deployed down one flank, opposite former Richmond Kicker Ben Hunter.

Inside the center of midfield, ex-Harrisburg City Islander Nicki Paterson could be Real Maryland's best passer. Two call-ups from the U-20 ranks, Jose Biviano and Ricardo Unda, have both turned heads during the preseason.

"They're very technical, very skillful," Hudson said. "Jose is a fantastic little talent. ... And Ricardo is just a rising player, with a great work ethic about him."

Real plans on achieving a coveted combination: possessive and workmanlike in the midfield, explosive in the front and back. And while the back four are the spine of the team, the Monarchs' two top fullbacks quickly turn defense into offense.

Right back Jon Borrajo is equally good inside and out, but last year's team captain is at his best floating into the offensive zone. In a preseason scrimmage with George Mason University, the 22-year-old produced a gorgeous assist against his alma mater, getting wide and crossing to Biviano.

On the left side, Norwegian Kenneth Sola is also an excellent crosser and even better from set pieces. Former Panama City Pirate (of the USL Premier Developmental League) Matt Williams will also challenge for a starting spot because of his offensive abilities, while center backs Gareth Evans — formerly of lower-division English side Wrexham AFC — and Mason Trafford are more defensive-minded.

Goalkeeper is something of a question mark, though University of New Hampshire graduate Brian Levey has the starting post locked down for now.

"As a coaching staff and certainly for myself, we want to not only win but move these guys onto bigger and better things," Hudson said. "We have a lot of guys around the 23, 24 age where this is a really big year for them, and we've got some talented players in here. So there's a lot to look forward to."


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