Sunday, August 22, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I left the house yesterday morning and all was right with the world. Scott Wagstaff had put Charlton ahead of Oldham allowing (some of) my fellow Addicks to take note of Lloyd Sam's dream start with Leeds without regret.

While I would have enjoyed listening to the game and following the reaction on CharltonLife (and watching Arsenal demolish the Tangerines), I had to see a man about a pony. Our daughter had enthusiastically agreed to a soccer weekend with three games over two days, as well as watching a practice session before United's game against the Union. To show my immense gratitude, we hit the Montgomery County Fair to hang out with rescued horses (and donkeys) and pony rides. And, well, it took longer than expected.

Toddlers need naps. Parents who deny this reality pay in spades. By the time we got to Paul Angelo Russo Stadium in Towson, most of the first half was completed and we sat down in time to see Ali Gerba complete a first half hat trick for the Montreal Impact. Better late than never, because we were treated to the best performance by a team that we've seen in lower division soccer. Gerba was tremendous and the attacking play was precise and devastating. Through balls were played at perfect weight, with great timing, and relentless repetition. CP Baltimore's defense was scrambling to keep the score at less than five and heroically parried a number of goal scoring opportunities.

CP Baltimore got destroyed. It was an embarrassing performance. But the upshot for us was that Baltimore may have finally gotten it right. For the club, it may be too late. But if they are going to go down, they will at least do so in a comfortable setting.

There were more fans at the game than we have seen in quite some time. And they were families and kids. And happy. Paul Angelo Russo is a nice site -- it is over an hour away from our home (an additional thirty minutes from UMBC's stadium), so a major personal inconvenience -- and it is conducive to the type of support base that the club has right now. Which is the same as their support last season; the support of a third division football team with a decent youth program.

Players, like Val Teixeira, mingled easily with the fans in the stands. As did our daughter. She had chosen to wear a pink Montreal Impact shirt we picked up at the Stade Saputo in July, but no one seemed to care. At the end of the game, she joined the throng of kids seeking autographs from the players in uniform, who also mingled easily with the crowd. Andy Marshall gave her some stick for the shirt and made her smile, and, in turn, each of the players who stuck around seemed to enjoy interacting with the children.

Going to the game was fun. Never mind results. And that is a sea change for Crystal Palace Baltimore this season.

There are three home games left in the season. We probably won't make them. But I feel some regret and loss at that, because there is certainly something redeemable about the team and it will be a damn shame if they don't make it to another season.

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