Well, that seems deserved; karmic even. Expecting another trouncing over Bermuda's struggling squad that would once again spotlight the remarkable talent accumulated on Crystal Palace USA, the family headed up to UMBC Wednesday night (this time arriving only fifteen minutes late). And what we witnessed was remarkable. Horrid, but remarkable. On the field were two center halves that were routinely outplayed by a very poor attacking side, an attacking pair that looked woefully out of touch with each other -- Mbuta and Pat Healey seemed to be constantly running to the same spaces (Healey also lacked the pace to catch up to at least two promising balls knocked his way at the beginning of the second half), and generally heartless play by those wearing Palace shirts. In the stands, where Paul Robson took in the game, many likely missed Robson on the backline. Perhaps the only positive was an improved performance by Mateus dos Anjos at left back.
This was the first game we had been to this year where Mbuta's insane talent was not fully on display and where Larry Mark did not impress at right wing. Val Teixeira's crosses were great, but until Gary Brooks subbed in for Healey, there was no one on the other end.
A few issues with the club's summary of the game: Mbuta's wide shot was taken immediately after he was victimized by one of multiple questionable offside calls by the linesman on the far side of the field. Watching USL2 referees has me hopelessly confused about the offsides call. And calling Kevin King's shots "wide" doesn't begin to describe how far afield Mr. King's attempts were -- never mind how strange King's positioning was after his entrance into the game (what position was he playing, exactly? Attacking roamer? Shin left for that?). His second colossal miss on a sitter led to shrieks of exasperation from me that woke my two month old with such a start that a ten minute screaming fit followed (I hold you responsible, Mr. King).
Not the ideal way to close out the home fixtures. Playoff game next Wednesday; CP still has a chance to earn the third spot on the USL2 table. Cleveland is a point ahead with a game in hand, but has to face both first place Charlotte, which leads the Richmond Kickers by two points, and Wilmington, a win for the Hammerheads will net them a playoff spot. CP has one game left, playing the Kickers in Richmond, so not an easy road for them either and I think it is safe to assume that they'll be the fourth place team headed into the postseason.
Additional note: the photographs below should help to explain how troubling CP's loss was to the Hogges. The first shot is of Bermuda's bench towards the end of the match, the second is of Palace's bench.