With FC Baltimore sitting in fifth place in the Mid-Atlantic Conference with four points, the club needed to pick up a win on Friday night to stay in the highly contested race for the conference crown.
FC Baltimore welcomed fellow in-state rival FC Frederick to CCBC Essex, a Maryland Derby per se. Before Friday night’s match, FCB had only picked up one point in their last three, and only scored one goal in the same time. The team needed to start off strong, and they did. Multiple chances were created in the first 15 minutes including some near misses from Lucas Mendes, but the team was not yet able to capitalize.
In the 26th minute, forward Tre Pulliam delivered a beautiful through ball to Tunde Akinlosotu who buried the shot for his first goal of the year.
“He’s been dangerous all year and the ball hasn’t really gone in for him, and when you have that in an attacking player, you gotta to trust your game, you gotta keep going,” FC Baltimore head coach Brandon Quaranta said on his striker. “He’s huge for us tonight. I think that’s something that can carry into the next games.”
FC Frederick pursued the next 10 minutes and were perhaps more dangerous than they were the rest of the night. Quantrell Jones had to make some nice stops on the night including a 1v1 against striker William Eskay. One of the better chances of the evening for Frederick came right in front of goal. 33-year-old Saidou Toure had a ball bounce right in front of him. Toure tried a chip over Jones which ended up a little too strong and over the bar.
As the second half rolled around, things got a little chippy. In the 68th minute, Nate Hall made a challenge on forward Graham Guidry. After deliberation he awarded Hall a red card and a sending off, while Guidry stayed on with a yellow. This left FC Baltimore down to 10 men with nearly 20 minutes to go.
About 10 minutes later, FCB were able to put the game to rest with Tunde Akinlosotu scoring his second of the night. That second goal seemed to take the wind out of FC Frederick’s sails and Quantrell Jones and FC Baltimore were able to earn their first clean sheet of the season in a 2-0 win.
“Coming into it, we’re not even halfway through the season, but we felt it was pretty much a must-win game for us with the standings and where they are, being a home game especially, so we were kind of pressing the urgency button on getting three points for this one…I was proud of their effort,” Quaranta said postgame.
FC Baltimore now sit in fourth place in the Mid-Atlantic Conference. One has to be in the top three to earn a trip to the playoffs and with this win, FC Baltimore have seven points and are right behind FC Frederick who sit with the same amount of points, but are ahead on goal differential.
Next match for FC Baltimore comes on Wednesday June 20th at Legacy 76. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 pm.
Contributor: Christian Taylor/FC Baltimore
Photo Credit: Chris Singlemann