By J’Mar Smith/FC Baltimore Christos
Following a grueling game against Philadelphia, FC Baltimore had its hands full with Hartford FC. This was a game of emotions as both fan bases came out to support their respective squads. As fans shouted jeers and cheers to refs and players, both teams showed heart in getting their offenses going. Even with all the enthusiasm the defense made certain this would be a long night.
There was a lot of feeling each other out in the first 15 minutes, with Baltimore controlling most of the possession early on. After several close chances, the breakthrough looked like it had arrived in the 25th minute as Taylor Calheria drew a foul in the box, setting up an Alejandro Arbelaez penalty kick. His shot was destined for the left corner, but the Hartford goaltender had it read, stopping the shot and holding on to avoid a rebound.
Baltimore managed to have numerous runs that ended in a missed attempt or a goalie save. This would not deter FCBC from trying to score as they were relentless, and that transferred over on the defensive side as well. For every Hartford attempt to push the ball into the final third a defender was there to cut them off at the pass.
Hartford eventually managed to break out from this slump and find an opening in Baltimore’s defense that allowed them to score. The big issue here is that the goal did not count as the player was deemed offsides, negating the score and leaving the game knotted at zero.
Similar to the previous game, FC Baltimore Christos head coach Larry Sancomb lit a fire under his team during the break, and his team responded. Midfielder Danny Baxter came out confident, and capitalized just four minutes into the second half. On a run by FCBC, fellow midfielder Alejandro Arbelaez found his teammate streaking ahead of him and lobbed the ball over his head for the easy goal. Baxter credited his teammate for that goal imploring without his play the goal would have never happened.
“Honestly, Alejandro had a great assist, he really had a 25-footer and he heard me say over the top and he just hit that ball with some back spin and dropped in front of me and I just hit it back post,” said Baxter.
Hartford continued to press FCBC’s defense and had their golden opportunity to tie the match, but the reigning Man of the Match had other ideas. Goalkeeper Mike Zierhoffer, who had five saves in the previous game, made a diving save to keep the score at 1-0. Baltimore was able to lock down the game and see out a professional result, and a second consecutive clean sheet
FC Baltimore Christos moves onto the East Region Final on Sunday to face a familiar foe in FC Motown. In 2018, it was Motown who took down Baltimore 3-0 in the region semifinal, ending their season. In 2019, Baltimore got its revenge, defeating their New Jersey foes 1-0 at the same
CCBC Essex Stadium.
Photo Credit: Thomas Mann