Crystal Palace Opens Its Doors

Pro Soccer

April 17, 2009|By Todd Karpovich | Todd Karpovich,Special to The Baltimore Sun

A roster full of international and local talent has Crystal Palace Baltimore setting its sights on a championship entering Friday's opener against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at UMBC.

Crystal Palace Baltimore, in its third season in the Second Division of the United Soccer Leagues, returns 12 players from last season's squad that lost in the semifinals to the top-seeded Charlotte Eagles and upset the New York Red Bulls in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Coach Pete Medd said many of those players trained together through the winter and that has helped the team set higher standards.

"With the players we brought in and the experience we have, the expectations are to win a championship and advance to at least the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup," Medd said. "The hunger is there. The guys get along. They're competitive and they really push each other."

Crystal Palace Baltimore was designed to be a sister club for Crystal Palace Football Club, a south London professional team founded in 1905. USL-2 includes nine teams, including Real Maryland FC, which plays its home games at Richard Montgomery High in Rockville.

Crystal Palace Baltimore is looking to put together a match against Crystal Palace Football Club this summer. The English club is also looking into playing a Major League Soccer team.

The return of captain Val Teixeira should help the team remain near the top of the league standings this season. After last season, Teixeira trained with Crystal Palace in England and eventually signed with Chesterfield FC before returning to Baltimore.

"The experience he picked up in four months in England was unbelievable," Medd said.

In addition, midfielder Shintaro Harada, a former Japanese J-League player, returns after getting interest from several MLS teams in the offseason.

The team also will rely on some local players to help the anchor the lineup. Pat Healey, who played at Calvert Hall and was the Colonial Athletic Association's 2007 Player of the Year at Towson, is expected to be a scoring threat as he moves from midfield to forward. Healey most recently helped win a title for the Blast in the National Indoor Soccer League.

"If we don't win a championship, it's a failure," Healey said. "We're looking to build, but you play to win championships. We're trying to make an Open Cup run to see if we can go further."

The midfield was helped by the return of Bryan Harkin, a former Liverpool FC youth player, and Dan Lader, a Salisbury alumnus who scored the tying goal against the New England Revolution in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup.

Brian Rowland, who played at UMBC, returns in goal.

2009 SCHEDULE

(Home games at UMBC Stadium)

Date Opponent Time

Friday vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds 7:30

April 24 vs. Bermuda Hogges 7:30

May 1 at Charlotte Eagles 7

May 2 at Wilmington Hammerheads 7

May 9 at Real Maryland 6

May 15 vs. Western Mass. Pioneers 7:30

May 16 vs. Charlotte Eagles 7

May 23 at Richmond Kickers 7

May 26 at Western Mass. Pioneers 7:30

May 29 vs Real Maryland 7:30

June 5 at Western Mass. Pioneers 7:30

June 13 vs. Wilmington Hammerheads 7

June 19 at Bermuda Hogges 7

June 26 vs. Real Maryland 7:30

July 3 at Harrisburg City Islanders 7:05

July 11 vs. Harrisburg City Islanders 7

July 18 vs. Richmond Kickers 7

July 25 vs. Charlotte Eagles 7

Aug. 7 at Harrisburg City Islanders 7:05

Aug. 15 at Pittsburgh Riverhounds 7:05

Note: All times p.m.

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