Tonight infront of a home crowd of 3,401 at UMBC Stadium the Crystal Palace Soccer Team opened their season against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The fans were not disappointed as the Crystal Palace team won 3-0.
Before the game I caught up with Pete Medd the Co-Manager of the Crystal Palace team. I asked him what he thought of the turn out for the home opener. Pete replied,”This is a great event!! We have something special going on here; come out and see what we have going on!!”
There was fun for the whole family as there were games and contests going on for the kids before and during the game. There was plenty of ample parking available for the large crowd which turned out for the game. UMBC Stadium is a beautiful place to watch a Soccer game!!
Crystal Palace started with pressure provided by Gary Brooks, Brian Harkin and Sergio Flores right from the beginning of the game. The 1st goal of the game came in the 8th minute on a beautiful cross by Matthew Mbuta from the right corner of the box to a wide open Gary Brooks; who headed the ball cross corner beating Pittburgh’s Goalkeeper Zachary Vargas easily.
The Pittsburgh Riverhounds were awarded a penalty kick at the 20th Minute mark when Pittsburgh’s Travis Mackenzie was taken down in the box by Crystal Palace’s Ibrahim Kante. Crystal Palace Goalkeeper Matt Nelson made a incredible stop of the penalty kick taken by Pittsburgh’s Jerome Jean Robins by diving to his right and pushing the ball away.
The 2nd goal of the game by Crystal Palace was scored by Alex Ughiovhe on a pass by Cecil Lewis right infront of the goal. The halftime score was 2-0 Crystal Palace, but it could have easily been 5 or 6 to 1.
During halftime 6 youth girls and boys soccer teams were able to play in 3 seperate games on the field. Later Crystal Palace players threw T-Shirts into the stands as the crowd went crazy trying to get one. A lucky fan even won a pair of tickets to 6 Flags.
The 2nd half started off with Pittsburgh applying more pressure in the Crystal Palace end of the field. But at the 60th minute mark Matthew Mbuta hit the left goal post with a hard shot, just missing a goal. Gary Brooks made a great pass across the middle of the field to set up Matthew for the shot.
In the 67th minute of the match both Alex Ughiouhe of Crystal Palace and Jason Kutney of Pittsburgh were both red carded for a slight misunderstanding. Kutney was later taken to Sinai Hospital for the ankle injury he had received. This resulting in both teams playing the game a man down.
At the 79th minute mark Crystal Palace’s Brian Harkin made a incredible pass from half field down the left side to a speeding Cecil Lewis who took a strong shot which Pittsburgh’sd Goalkeeper Zachary Varga made a beautiful save. Then Pittsburgh came right back in the 80th minute as Crystal Palace dodged another bullet when Pittsburgh’s Thabiso Khumalo’s header hit the left goal post. Next Cecil Lewis received his 2nd yellow card resulting in a red card and forcing Crystal Palace to finish the game with 9 men on the pitch for the last 7 minutes and stoppage time.
It didn’t matter because in the 87th minute Baltimore’s own Patrick Healey scored his 1st professional goal in his 1st professional game on a tremendous pass from Brian Harkin which made the score 3-0. This ended up being the final score of the game.
After the game all the players from Crystal Palace and several from the Pittsburgh Riverhounds came over the fence and signed autograph’s for the hundreds of kids who came down to the field for almost an hour and half.
When asked what it was like to get his 1st professional goal in his 1st professional game and infront of the home crowd Patrick Healey said with a big smile on his face,”It was OK, I was in the right place right in front of the goal and there it was!!” Co-Manager Pete Medd was extremely happy with the outcome of the match and the play of his team when asked after the game.
If you didn’t get a chance to go to the game tonight the next game for the Crystal Palace Soccer Team will be on May 4th at 4 PM at UMBC Stadium against the Richmond Kickers. Come out and see them play!!