Sunday, August 21, 2011

Terps 2.011

Two very pleasant trips to campus today.

An early morning constitutional following the Arsenal and Liverpool tie (nice to see Carl Jenkinson getting a full run out in major games -- he looks like he will be able to hold his own in the EPL) took us to the football stadium shortly after the end of the open practice, but still in time for the three-year old to get autographs from Coach Edsall, Coach Crowton, Kenny Tate, and Danny O'Brien.

The university does a terrific job with these events. The relaxed atmosphere was perfect for introducing my daughter to the stadium, showing her where our seats would be, and planting the idea of adding football games to the portfolio of sporting events the she will accompany me to. It is also nice to see how much a small community of Terps football supporters genuinely appreciate the access to and time spent by the team's staff and players.

We were back on campus seven hours later for the men's soccer team's exhibition against Georgetown. The event marked the first live soccer game attended by our youngest and we could not have asked for a nicer night as the backdrop for the match.

Maryland's starting eleven featured many familiar faces -- including three players that spent time with Real Maryland this summer (Will Swaim, Karou Forbess, and Alex Lee) -- and one unfamiliar face, as Marquez Fernandez paired up with Lee in the back.

While the game ended in defeat and had long stretches of sloppy play, I walked away impressed with Sasho Cirovski's team. Maryland started the game with two solid fullbacks, London Woodberry and Taylor Kemp, have a very strong holding midfielder in Helge Leikvang, a clever, entertaining wide player in Sunny Jane, and a strong, talented attacker in Patrick Mullins. Alex Shinsky got a run out as a substitute -- the team is certainly not hurting on depth.

But the principal takeaway from the game (for me at least) had to be Kyle Roach.

Brian Wiese's men came to Ludwig with aggression in their minds and hearts. Maryland players were punished in the midfield, with Georgetown's number 7 (I believe Gabe Padilla) rocking some clattering challenges against the Terps. Maryland is an extremely skilled and well-coached team (really liked the design of an early corner -- Forbess short to Kemp, curled past the back post to Mullins/Stertzer, with the ball headed back into the middle and the defense thoroughly unsettled), but they can be bullied and thrown off their game. When the referee allowed hard challenges (fouls), Maryland seemed unsettled.

Enter Mr. Roach as a substitute for Taylor Kemp at left back. Although a freshman, Roach is clearly the most physically imposing player on Maryland's roster and he left his mark on several Hoyas. Late in the game, Roach put in a poor corner and, in subsequently trying to win the ball back, blew up a Georgetown player to draw a caution (a straight red might also have been appropriate). Although not particularly tall (5'10"), Roach is big and fast and he gives Maryland an element of ferocity that, in the absence of Matt Kassel, Jason Herrick, and Ethan White, would otherwise be sorely missed.

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