Towson, MD (September 16, 2017)
The Baltimore Kings, a non-league independent professional
soccer team, played its first inaugural game on Saturday against another local professional team, Washington Fire. The game, advertised as The DMV Cup, was played in front of a standing room only crowd of soccer fans from the DC-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) area at Concordia Prep school in Towson, MD.
As the game kicked off, players on both teams spent the first five to ten minutes feeling each other out. The first shot was fired by Kings’ player Patrick Pato (UMBC, Real Maryland) in the sixth minute that went off target. Soon after, Jade Mesias (Harrisburg Heat, Syracuse SilverKnights) and David Neuberth (Philadelphia Fury, Real Maryland) combined well to get a shot off a few inches wide. Neuberth was particularly strong in the air with his tall frame and was a nemesis for the Fire’s defense all game. His header off of a corner kick in the 21st minute nearly went in but saved well by the Fire keeper.
A flurry of shots in quick succession by Gavin Boyer (DC United, Baltimore Celtic) and Josh Danza followed as the first half came to a close. Kings pressed hard the last 15 minutes of the first half and earned a foul for a kick from the penalty spot. Mesias took a textbook perfect penalty kick to score Kings’ first goal of the inaugural season and club history.
With half time approaching, Fire responded well earning set piece opportunities and posting shots on frame, well saved by Kings keeper Jake Boyle (Limestone College); John Jlopeh's (Villanova University) low shot was well saved by Boyle.
Fire players showed plenty of pace and skill - while Daniel Baumgartner (LA Wolves, University of Hawaii) and Jlopeh were the offensive power, Stafford Chipungu (Rutgers University, Salisbury University) with his pace stopped a lot of Kings’ offensive plays.
As the game progressed and first professional game jitters dissipated for many players, the second half came to life with good offensive plays and shots on goal. Boyer’s dribble was cleared by Fire’s defender leading to a corner kick and a goal ensued. Neuberth scored his first goal from the corner kick.
Roger Sampah (DC United, VfB Stuttgart) was an energetic presence for Kings throughout the game and demonstrated superior technical ability and individual effort; with 20 minutes left in the game, Sampah’ shot from 30 yards out sailed just above the cross bar. In one instance, Sampah’s combination give and go play placed him on the receiving end with an open goal but he kicked the ball wide. A TV commentator would have said “he wants that one back”.
Kings scored twice in the last fifteen minutes of the game. Danza split the two centerbacks on a run into the box and finished a perfectly weighted bending cross into the box, sent in by David Warburton (DC United, Loyola University). Neuberth scored his second and the fourth goal for the team when he intercepted a dangerous pass in the back and beat the keeper with a placed shot.
Mike Kozlowski (Evergreen Diplomats, Lancaster Lions) controlled the middle of the field throughout the match, while Trey Cooper (Towson University, Real Maryland) and Pete Ostergren (Eastern Nazarene) held down the backline and preserved the clean-sheet.
Boyer’s goal prior to Neuberth’s was ruled offside by the officials.
The game ended with Kings winning 4-0.
Goals: Neuberth (2), Mesias (PK), Danza
Assists: Mesias, Warburton
Baltimore Kings: Jake Boyle, David Warburton, Mike Kozlowski, EJ Jackson, Patrick Pato, Jade Mesias, Josh Toribio, Josh Danza, Roger Sampah, Gavin Boyer, Trey Cooper, David Neuberth, Dave Cash, Pete Ostergren.
Washington Fire: Evan Raimist, Aaron Oke, Carlos Casteneda, Stafford Chipungu, Chris Maimone, Joey Yeboah, John Jlopeh, Daniel Baumgartner, Abdel Fankako, Marguis Flowers, Juan Velasquez, Vaughn Ridings, Matteo Bellistri, Chris White, Carlos Barrios.
By the Numbers
Players signed from:
Learn more about the Baltimore Kings Pro Team at www.baltimorekings.com/pro-team.
Article & Box Score: Shobha Kondragunta, Ian Jett, JT Dulany
Photography: John Meyer, David Raimist, Nick Rynes, Shobha Kondragunta