Desmond Armstrong, 26, has played soccer at the highest indoor and outdoor levels in the United States, but never for the hometown Maryland Bays.
Armstrong will make his debut for the Bays at 7 tonight in the team's American Professional Soccer League home opener against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Cedar Lane Park in Columbia.
Armstrong's soccer credentials are impressive, highlighted by last summer's World Cup, in which he was a starting defender for the U.S. national team.
For Armstrong, it all began in the youth soccer leagues in Columbia.
"I'm excited about playing for the Bays," said Armstrong, who returned from Denver on Monday after helping the U.S. national team defeat Uruguay, 1-0, Sunday. "It's going to be touch-and-go this season because the players that played last year deserve to play the most this season. I'm probably going to miss a majority of the games because of the U.S. national team. I don't want to step on anybody's toes."
Armstrong talked as if he might only play in four or five games for the Bays, which, he said, will open up playing time for the returning members of the defending APSL champions.
"I just want to go out and have fun playing for the Bays," Armstrong said. "It's great to be home and playing with a lot of guys I know."
However, Armstrong is committed to playing with the U.S. national team in the World Series of Soccer, which runs throughout the summer. His ultimate goal is to start again for the U.S. World Cup team and play before his friends and family if some World Cup games are held in the Baltimore-Washington area.
NOTES: A renovated Cedar Lane Park, with 1,500 additional seats, will be unveiled tonight with ceremonies that will include Howard County Executive Charles Ecker kicking out the first ball. . . . There will be a halftime penalty-kick shootout for fans who will try to kick the ball through the largest hole in the Domino's logo in an attempt to win a 10-speed bicycle.
Opponent: Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Site: Cedar Lane Park, Columbia, 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WCBM (680 AM)
Outlook: The Strikers feature U.S. national team G Tony Meola and Wichita Wings standouts D Victor Moreland and D Steve Pittman. Bays M Rob Ryerson (reconstructive knee surgery) and M Bob Lilley (strained ankle ligaments) will miss the home opener, and F Phillip Gyau has not returned from visiting relatives in Ghana. But 1990 World Cup veterans D Desmond Armstrong and M Bruce Murray will make their debuts with Maryland tonight.