Maryland Bays coach Gary Hindley says the difference between success and failure in the American Professional Soccer League often comes down to one factor: Can you win on the road?
In a league where most road games are back-to-back, Saturday-Sunday jaunts, when sleep is kept to a minimum and much of the waking hours are spent in airports and buses, even the most conditioned athletes can falter.
Two weeks ago the Bays did a weekend stint in Denver and San Francisco -- not only the farthest cities in the league but also two of the best teams -- and were lucky enough to come away with a split.
This weekend they will stay closer to home, playing in Penn-Jersey in Camden, N.J., tomorrow night at 7:35 and Sunday afternoon at 3:05 in Albany, N.Y.
"The key to these back-to-back games is to win the first one," said Bays midfielder Rob Ryerson. "Once you get that win, it takes a little of the pressure off of getting the second. When you relax, you play better. The second game is going to be a dogfight either way because you get tired, and you don't want to have the fear of losing both."
Of course for the second-place Bays (11-1), who have 89 points but three games in hand on first-place San Francisco (13-2, 101 points), losing two games in one weekend seems a little far-fetched.
"I know that we are a better team than either of these teams," Hindley said. "Some teams would take a split on the road and be happy, but I really think we have the ability to get two wins this weekend."
Hindley said one of the reasons his team has been so successful this season is because of its depth.
"I can go with four different guys in each game and not lose any strength," Hindley said. "We can get fresh bodies in there. Of DTC course, our key players, like Kevin Sloan and Jean Harbor, are going to play every minute of every game so it's important that they can handle it."
So far the veteran duo has been up to the task.
Sloan, who played his high school soccer at Oakland Mills, is riding an APSL-record eight-game scoring streak. Harbor, who has led the APSL in scoring the entire season, has already equaled his totals for last year with nine goals and six assists.
Forward Brian Haynes has also been a vital new addition to the Bays' lineup, with five goals and three assists.
The Bays will return to Cedar Lane Park next Sunday, July 28, to face Penn-Jersey once again.