For Palace, win tonight would be quite a coup

Soccer

July 01, 2008|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN REPORTER

Pete Medd and Jim Cherneski aren't operating under any illusions. The co-head coaches of Crystal Palace FC USA know that a win tonight over the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer wouldn't exactly be on par with Rocky beating Apollo Creed, the U.S. hockey team beating the Russians in the 1980 Olympics or a 16th seed beating a top seed in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

But if Crystal Palace should happen to knock off the Red Bulls in the U.S. Open Cup third-round match at Broadneck at 7:30 p.m., well, it would be rather sizable, if not seismic.

"It would be like the Baysox, [the Orioles' Double-A affiliate] hosting and beating the [New York] Mets," Medd said.

The Crystal Palace team, in its second season, operates as an American affiliate of the Crystal Palace Football Club of the United Kingdom in the second division of the United Soccer Leagues. The league is widely considered a second-tier American professional league, the equivalent of baseball's Double-A, with MLS being the top U.S. professional league.

However, the local Crystal Palace team held its own against its parent club in a friendly last September in London, won by the British team, 1-0. The Baltimore team is stocked with players with extensive foreign experience, including midfielder Shintaro Harada, who has played in some elite Japanese leagues, and Paul Robson, a defender who has played in the English premier league.

Also, two USL teams, Harrisburg and Richmond, have beaten D.C. United and the Los Angeles Galaxy, respectively, of MLS, so Crystal Palace players have a road map to follow.

"We're not going into this game defensive and hoping that we get a result," said Cherneski, who, like Medd, played at Towson in the mid-1990s. "We're going out and we want to attack them."

milton.kent@baltsun.com

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