Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Turtle Power

Ludwig Field on Friday and Tuesday night and a pretty stark contrast in atmospheres. On Friday night, we joined over 7,000 people (including a hobbled Rodney Wallace) at Maryland's televised game against Duke. The game wasn't terribly entertaining or maybe it was -- we found an open spot on the hill where we could see about one-third of the field unobstructed -- but it was a heck of a place to be. The negative vibe of the Maryland student support (blah, blah, blah SUCKS! blah, blah, blah SUCKS!) was ratcheted up by the identity of the opponent but leveled out by an equal number of students that showed up just to watch the match and a whole lot of alums and neighbors from the surrounding community. My daughter had a blast and she enjoyed running around with lots of other young children at the stadium and I had as much fun watching her as I did watching an impressive Maryland team on the field. At the end of the game, she was so happy with the evening that she wanted to get down to the field to applaud the players. I walked out a happy man.

Last night, a far smaller crowd took in an even better game against UConn. While students and neighbors spent a chilly night elsewhere, the game drew plenty of interest for other quarters. Goff notes:

Sixth-ranked Maryland handed No. 2 Connecticut its first loss, 1-0, in College Park. Among the witnesses at Ludwig Field: D.C. United interim coach Ben Olsen and technical director Chad Ashton; Real Salt Lake executive Garth Lagerwey; Houston Dynamo assistant Steve Ralston; former DCU coach Curt Onalfo; and representatives from the Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls.

We sat near Chad Ashton in the first half and then, at my daughter's prompting, switched to the other side of the field and saw Ben Olsen make his way out a bit early. The first half of the match was wide open with the Huskies and Terps storming up and down the field and putting intense pressure on each other's defenses. The second half was a lot uglier as UConn appeared to emphasize physicality and a series of harsh fouls soured the game.

I had a hard time figuring out who to pay attention to on UConn and wasn't familiar with the team prior to the game. Tony Cascio may have drawn a number of professional scouts, but the only players that really stood out on the other side were freshman Andrew Jean-Baptiste (for some undisciplined physical play and many of the harsh fouls), senior Alan Ponce, and sophomore Carlos Alvarez (for their chippy work up front).

But when not chasing my daughter around, I got to see a lot of Maryland's players. Alex Lee has been drafted into middle of the defense with London Woodberry starting on the right of the defense. Woodberry's slight build belies his tenacious approach to his craft. Cirovski has noted that he sees his defense as coming together and with Woodberry and Lee on the right and White and Kemp on the left, the Terps have an impressive back four. Ethan White is insanely good. As far as making an impression, Patrick Mullins looks like he can score at any point from any place on the field. He provides Maryland with an offensive threat that has not been present on past teams and the more he plays, the more the crosses from Kemp, Woodberry, Rodkey, and Forbess will be rewarded with conversions.

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