Maryland Teams Memorial Day Weekend Roundup

Contrary to expectations, I did not make an odyssey to Somerville this weekend as both my wife and one of our cats were feeling under the weather. Instead, I stayed close to home, went to a concert, and attended the DCU Women’s match Sunday evening. (Boy, I could get used to this journalism gig: I get to sit in the air-conditioned, rain-protected pressbox during the match and talk with whatever female soccer players I want afterwards without being thought a stalker. Okay, on to the actual reporting.)

W-League: DC United Women 3, Northern Virginia Majestics 0

Story of the first half: One of Tiffany Brown's many shots that were saved by Emma Kruse

Another perk of the press badge was being allowed to stand a few yards back of the end line with my camera waiting for what I thought would be the inevitable onslaught of goals by the DCU Women against the hapless Majestics, who last won a game in 2010. Instead I got numerous photos like the one above, with NoVa goalkeeper Emma Kruse turning aside one shot from Tiffany Brown after another. I think Brown is going to have nightmares about green-jerseyed monsters.

DCU accumulated 14 shots in the first half, 7 on goal, though with nothing to show for it. The biggest excitement was Carolyn Blank entering in the 34th minute, replacing Kristen Schmidbauer just as she was about to take one of United’s 7 corner kicks. (The Majestics had none.)

Well, I take that back, the biggest excitement was watching the dark clouds roll in and the lightning get closer while wondering whether we’d get to halftime before the game had to be suspended and also if the Soccerplex’s lightning proximity detectors were working – particularly considering that there was a young woman standing on the roof of the pressbox filming the game. The warning horn sounded at the very moment the scoreboard clock hit the 43:00 mark, and, appropriately, just as Mikaela Howell entered the box on a breakaway with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Most of the 421 attending hustled inside the Discovery Sports Center and hung around for about half-an-hour while waiting for the all-clear. When the rain eased off, I returned to the press box (no wet seat to be wiped off – hooray!), and the players warmed up again. Play resumed with a promising situation for DC with a dropped ball just inside the penalty area, but they were unable to take advantage, and the half finished uneventfully. The teams then took a short break before changing sides and beginning the second half.

The second half looked to be more of the first, with United utterly dominating possession but unable to get the ball in the net. Someone sitting behind me groaned, “This is like one of those practices where you only use one half of the field!” The most frustrating moments might have been around the 54th minute, when Tiffany Brown sent a shot off the crossbar that went to the right. That was collected and sent back in to her moments later, whereupon she sent it right to the goalkeeper.

Brown was subbed out in the 61st minute for Sam Baker, who finally ended the deadlock ten minutes later when she got a nice feed from Mikaela Howell and from the top left corner of the box managed to slip a slow bouncer just inside the left post before Kruse could reach it. Three minutes later Carolyn Blank was tripped from behind as she entered the box. The referee pointed to the spot, and Mikaela Howell easily put away the penalty kick to Kruse’s right for her team-leading third goal of the season. Nine minutes later Holly King – dubbed “the best player on the field tonight” by head coach Mike Jorden – would conclude the scoring when captain Marisa Abegg lofted in a free kick that somehow found King in a crowd right in front of the goal mouth. She chested it down and put away with her left foot.

Carolyn Blank commented afterwards about the frustration, “You’re going to have games like that. You just have to be patient, not force anything and not get frustrated. Just kind of regroup and stay patient and keep shooting. One will come.”

Coach Jorden said, “In the first half the Majestics made it difficult for us to get in, and when we did get it in, we missed some pretty clear chances. But we made a few changes the second half, started getting a rhythm, kept the ball moving, and got the goals.”

Goalkeeper Danielle DeLisle, who also played the second half of the opener, did not need to make a save the entire match and only faced two shots (as compared with 26 going the other way, 15 of which were on goal). King said, “We were teasing her. We said we should pull out a chair for her. She was extremely bored.” The black-and-red have yet to give up a goal this year, even without their marquee player, US Women’s National Team central defender Becky Sauerbrunn.

Next match: DC goes on the road for their next two matches, playing the Dayton Dutch Lions on Thursday and again on Saturday before returning home for an exhibition match against Paul Riley’s Women’s Pro SuperGroup Friday, June 15, at 8 pm. The red-and-black’s remaining marquee players – Joanna Lohman, Lianne Sanderson, and Becky Sauerbrunn – should be available for these matches.

Highlights courtesy of the team:

Carolyn Blank talks about her first game with the DCU Women:

Head coach Mike Jorden talks about the game:

Sam Baker (scored winning goal) and Holly King (POTM) talk about the game:

(I asked Baker about her throw-ins because during the Breakers game she was consistently getting them into the goalmouth.)

WPSL Elite: Chesapeake Charge 3, Philadelphia Fever 2

The Chesapeake Charge got their first Elite win on the road against the Fever off of two goals from Alexis Prior-Brown and one from Alex Brandt. That’s all the information I have at the moment.

ADDED 5/29, 11 pm: Game report now available at Soccer Nation.

Next match: The Charge continue their road warrior ways, heading to the Midwest to take on FC Indiana on Friday, June 8, and the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, June 10. They return home on Saturday, June 16, at 2 pm, when they take on the Western New York Flash at Old Mill High School in Millersville, MD.

WPSL: The Maryland Capitols did not play this week

Next match: The Maryland Capitols FC play the FCW Elite on Sunday, June 3, at 6 pm. Their home opener is on Wednesday, June 6, vs. the Tidewater Sharks at 7.30 pm at Marvin F. Wilson Stadium, Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex, Landover, MD.

Players of the Week

Instead of covering any of the Maryland teams, the other half of the Maryland Women’s Soccer Journalists Association was off at some event in southeastern Pennsylvania involving China, so it’s down to me to make the picks this week. Here we go:

Forward of the Week: Alexis Prior-Brown, Chesapeake Charge, for leading the Charge to their first win by scoring twice.

Midfielder of the Week: Holly King, DC United Women, for her work controlling the midfield and directing the DCU attack.

Defender of the Week: Tie: Jerica DeWolfe and Molly Menchel, both with DC United women. DeWolfe for repeatedly snuffing out even the hint of a Majestic attack and Menchel for having a motor that just doesn’t quit or even slow down.

Goalkeeper of the Week: No award, though honorable mention to Danielle DeLisle for remaining awake for 90 minutes.

Player of the Week: Alexis Prior-Brown.

9 thoughts on “Maryland Teams Memorial Day Weekend Roundup

  1. sec

    Thanks for this post, Kevin. (It is remarkable (crazy?) that you actually contemplated a Memorial Day weekend drive along the I-95 corridor, DC to Boston, and back).

    Re: Chesapeake Charge — Alexis Prior-Brown is very young, but gifted with speed and agile feet and a pretty nice right foot. She plays outside (left wing I think), as she doesn’t have technical ability or strength yet to play center fwd, possess the ball, and hold off defenders with her back to goal. She also appears a bit raw, in terms of tactics and decisions (again, I think she’s a young player). I wasn’t at this match v. Philly and know nothing about how she scored last weekend, but she’s a player that can certainly get in behind defenses and beat the outside back on the dribble. She also happens to be fairly tall, but I don’t know how well she attacks crosses in the air, or her heading abilities. Anyway, I predict that her brace this past weekend will not be the last goals she scores this summer.

    There are two fiesty, young central midfield players to watch for the Charge — Barger and Spivey. Very quick, technical, and with very high motors (Barger, especially, never stops moving). They are unafraid of contact, even against larger opponents. I believe some veterans, even on some of the goliath sides of WPSL-Elite, are going to be surprised and frustrated by these two. (I’ve since read that both will be Terps this fall, and fans should look forward to their tandem performances vs. top ACC sides).

    The Charge, from what I’ve seen and heard, are a team that is growing up week to week, and half to half. I know nothing about their coach, but he deserves credit, because they play hard.

    Does anyone know why Christine Nairn hasn’t played recently with the Charge? Am I missing something? She would really solidify things if she could play attacking central midfield.

    In other news, nice to hear that Becky Sauerbrunn will join the DCU women on the road in Dayton this Thursday and Saturday. I think that it is awesome for a player of such class, coming right off a grueling National Team camp, to jump right into club play. (Notably, several other national team defenders and midfielders looked as though they could benefit from playing more real matches; extended camp training seems to have made them stale). I just hope Becky takes care of herself and avoids injury. I imagine that Becky and the team are flying to Sweden in a week or 10 days, and I don’t know how they will keep the energy and sharpness up, through the next 60 days.

    1. Kevin Parker Post author

      I wasn’t going to drive (perish the thought!) but take the train. Instead of earning airplane miles on my credit card, I get train miles, which means most of my trips are free – 8000 points is enough for a round-trip between DC and Boston.

      If the box score is to be believed, Prior-Brown actually played flank defender in the New England match. Nairn was unavailable at the time due to obligations at Penn State. I haven’t seen a box score from the latest game so don’t know who played yet.

      Alexis was the most dangerous attacker for the Charge last year. Even with the roster upgrade for this year, I’m not sure that’s changed. She’s definitely a player to watch.

      Becky’s one of my favorite players, and I’m looking forward to seeing her back at the Soccerplex (assuming that fits in with her WNT schedule, which I’m not sure about).

  2. john

    I also was at the DCU-Majestics game and would like to share some thoughts. The most obvious aspect was the different objectives guiding the 2 organizations. This is problematical throughout women’s soccer as numerous teams are put in competitive environments that do little to develop the players.
    Hard to tell who coaches the Majestics. The person listed as the coach did next to nothing all night, while 2 “assistants” kept up a running barrage of “instruction”. In the 1st half (I moved at halftime) there were 3 positive comments. If nothing else they convinced me their players were clueless and probably did wonders f/ DC United’s confidence as well.
    Would love to believe that attendance figure, but I dubious. My guess is it was closer to 1/2 to 2/3 of that.
    I was disappointed that DCU did not utilize their superior athleticism, technical, and tactical abilities to just play faster than Majestics could cope with. Quicker player and ball movement would have opened the game up sooner.
    Lastly, Emma Kruse was stellar in tough circumstances and I’ll mention that DCU’s 1st goal was actually a deflected shot, which given her performance up till then I’ll wager Kruse would have saved.

    1. Kevin Parker Post author

      Different coaches have different styles. Gabarra of the Freedom hardly ever gave in-game instructions.

      As for attendance, most teams will count tickets sold whether you actually show up or not. So any season ticket holders who took off for the holiday weekend were probably still counted.

      I don’t see the deflection, but regardless it was certainly a surprisingly weak shot to make it in after everything else that Kruse had faced – and from the video it’s hard to tell why she doesn’t save it since it appears she gets to the post in time.

  3. john

    Perhaps I saw a phantom deflection, but live I saw the ball skim off a defender. No big change of direction, but perhaps enough to throw Kruse’s “aim” off. Still a stellar performance.

    Hard to believe there are that many season ticket holders to have other plans. How many season tickets has DCU sold? Don’t know how much time you spent among the crowd, but a good portion of it was Majestics fans. Essentially everyone from behind their bench to the scoreboard end was there to support Majestic players. A positive f/ that club, but less promising f/ DC United.

    I don’t have a problem w/ varied coaching styles. In my 25+ years I fell somewhere bet. Gabarra and the Majestics assts. What I did ponder on was if you play f/ the Majestics what are you thinking. Which coach do I have to please, why aren’t we prepared prior to the game, and lastly the stream of negativity is probably not the best motivator. That’s keeping in mind the season’s early and most squads are still getting on the same page. Bottom line is I don’t think anyone would say the “instruction” raised the Majestics level of play appreciably.

    1. Kevin Parker Post author

      I was either behind the goal or in the pressbox for most of the game, so didn’t get a feel for the makeup of the crowd. Did see a half-dozen or so fans I knew from the WPS Freedom days whom I think were rooting for DCU, but obviously that’s not a lot.

      As for the Majestics coaching, maybe that helps explain why they haven’t won a match since 2010.

    2. necron99

      Well as one data point, I hold 3 season tickets, and we have been to every home game up until this one. I went to the USWNT vs China game in Philly instead.

  4. john

    This season’s Majestics coaches are all new from last season and the roster has seen overall as well. Hopefully this will translate into an improved, more competitive side thereby improving the league and women’s soccer overall.

    Any info on why Nairn ended up w/ the Charge vs. DC United. Given her “status” it would seem DCU was the better fit. Who wanted the change I guess is my question?

    1. Kevin Parker Post author

      Well, the Charge are closer to home for her, and they’re in the more competitive league. If I get the chance, I’ll try to remember to ask her – did talk with her after the Boston match but didn’t think to ask that question.


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