I was able to listen to the first half of Charlton's opener through CAFC player and the description of the game seemed to indicate that Charlton controlled much of the tempo of the match and created numerous opportunities on goal. The 1-0 win seemed to reflect a failure to convert opportunities, but three points is three points.
We were able to catch the final home game of Real Maryland's disappointing season later in the day. Our two-year old was in a great mood and was making the most of the night out, allowing me to focus on the game more than any previous one this season. And what I saw was a decent game, a heart-breaking 2-2 draw with Charlotte where Real Maryland should have taken all three points. There were still a lot of frustrating things about the team -- most noticeably, the squad members spend an inordinate amount of time screaming at each other in frustration, despite some pretty awful play from nearly everyone on the team at some moment or another during the game. Someone in front of us asked a friend if he thought that DC United spent as much time screaming at each other and then concluded that they probably yelled just as much, but you couldn't hear it in the stands. I restrained myself from answering that I've only seen Morsink and Q yell at their teammates in the same manner and that even opposing sides generally don't scream at each other with the same level of hostility. The discord within the team makes them difficult to watch.
On the other hand, the wide play from Real Maryland's midfield was excellent. I was embarrassed to realize that I did not know anything about either Ben Hunter or Israel Sesay, both of whom were very impressive on the night. Hunter served up a beautiful ball from the left for Jyler Noviello to tap in for the team's first goal and then scored the second off a wicked shot that skipped off of a defender's arm and into goal. Hunter has a remarkable story. He's 25 and hails from the Doncaster Rovers academy set up, but came to the U.S. to play soccer for the University of Rio Grande (a two year college not confusingly at all located in Ohio) before transferring to UNC. Ben did well enough for the Tar Heels to be drafted by Columbus in the fourth round, but didn't make a senior appearance for the Crew. After a couple of seasons at Richmond, Hunter joined Real Maryland this season. What Hunter lacks in pace he makes up for in placement. The pass to Noviello for the goal was fantastic and Hunter's ability to switch the field was great.
On the right side, Real Maryland featured Israel Sesay, easily the most creative force in the team. It is ridiculous that I did not notice Sesay earlier in the season. Sesay, who will turn 20 in September, is only three years removed from earning a $57,000 professional salary for the LA Galaxy as a 16 year old. Sesay had two stints in Bradenton in the U.S. Soccer Residency Program, where he played with Zac MacMath and Gale Agbossoumonde. Sesay was brilliant on the ball and has uncommon dribbling skills for third division soccer in the U.S. When he gets the ball on his feet, the modest crowd was frequently drawn into the game, waiting to see what Izzy would do.
I've been snarky about poor performances from Real Maryland in the past, but, on the last of the home fixtures, I finally realized that there was something worth paying attention to on the pitch. Better late than never.