Crystal Palace Baltimore shut out in season opener

April 17, 2010|By Rich Scherr | Special to the Baltimore Sun

Baltimore's professional outdoor soccer team greeted fans at UMBC on Friday night sporting a new name, new uniforms and a new place in the soccer hierarchy.

For Crystal Palace Baltimore, however, one thing remained the same from a year ago — a hard-luck offense.

In the season opener for both teams, the hosts failed to cash in on a handful of prime scoring chances, allowing the game's only goal in the 66th minute to Tampa Bay's Aaron King for a 1-0 loss before an announced 1,029.

"I think we had three times as many real goal-scoring opportunities," Baltimore coach Jim Cherneski said. "The good news is that … the performance tonight will show that over the long haul, those shots are in the bank. Even though we lost, the performance was OK."

The team, formerly known as Crystal Palace USA, now plays in the newly formed North American Soccer League of the U.S. Soccer Federation Division II — the highest level of professional soccer in North America outside Major League Soccer. It's a step up from the past three years, when the team played in the third tier of U.S. pro soccer.

The squad returned about half its players from a year ago, when it averaged less than a goal per game and suffered through its first losing season.

It didn't take long for some of those same frustrations to resurface. Just 1:36 into the game, forward Randi Patterson got a clear shot on a breakaway but rolled it inches wide right.

Then, about six minutes to play before halftime, midfielder Kenold Versailles put a header wide right off a restart.

The near misses continued in the second half when, in the 54th minute, midfielder Mathew Mbuta hit the far post on a hard liner after a throw-in.

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