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Across the Pond: #EnglandTerps Daily Blog

Maryland Athletics
3-19-2018
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Day 8/9

Ah our journey is coming to its end. One final full day in London for the Terps came and went on Saturday and it was back downtown as Maryland’s players and staff had a free afternoon to enjoy the city.

So what did your scribe do? Well how about visiting the British Museum and seeing mummies with Maryland director of operations Miles Vaughn and video coordinator Jason Pazornick. As a proud holder of a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Maryland, your scribe played tour guide, aka walking aimlessly and reading off the exhibit descriptions. So it was a degree in American history from 1900-to-present. Your scribe never claimed to be the deepest of scholars.

The most exciting part of the day may have come at Riley’s Sports Bar, where Starting XI member and all around legend Bob Kim had a friendly five pound wager on the South Korea/Northern Ireland international friendly with the man of Scotland, Mick. Now could we say Mick’s last name? Sure, but Mick is in the category of one-named legends like Madonna, Beyonce and Pele. Mick, a top football scout for years, had been with the Terps for the week as a rep from World Strides, the organization that handled logistics trip for Maryland. Needless to say, Mick is an awesome dude and stands third from the left next to Mr. Kim and the brothers Cirovski in the photo below.

Left to Right: Vancho Cirovski, <a class=

So back to the bet. Straight up, winner take all. Five pounds on the line. South Korea dominated the second half of a 1-1 match and looked to be well on its way to pulling out the victory. However, much to PK’s chagrin, a late Paul Smyth (a last name near and dear to your scribe) winner gave Northern Ireland the match and Mick five pounds. We think Bob will be just fine, as long as there is a golf course to play on this earth.

That’s where we thought our tale ended, but early Sunday morning there was more to unfold. The Terps headed to the airport and among the luggage was two bags containing the Terps’ Under Armour soccer balls. Those bags are handled by freshmen Eric Matzelevich and Alejandro Chacon and are a big responsibility. One problem, Maryland had broken its three needles used to deflate the balls and the balls needed to be deflated before being checked on to the plane. Deflategate? Inflategate? Call it what you want, it was a problem.

After a search for a needle that proved fruitless, a kind Virgin Atlantic employee gifted the Terps with a number of paper clips, which turned out to (slowly) get the balls deflated. Many methods were used.

The classic knee pressed against the ground technique was popular. Even big Donnie Pines was dropping hammer knees on these spherical irritants.

The sitting on the ball method! It proved effective throughout and was one of the more comfortable ways to do it. Your scribe pressed the ball against a pole with academic advisor Kayley McInerney and strength coach Ben Hoffman.  Bob Kim did whatever Bob Kim was doing. But nothing topped this.

Yes, that is Fola Adetola STANDING ON A BALL! Your scribe had no chance at this type of balance, nor did many. Cheers, Fola.

A shout out to the crew that helped deflate the balls: Chacon, Matzelevich, Adetola, McInerney, Hoffman, Pines, Kim Paul Frendach, Chase Gasper, Ben Di Rosa, Matt Di RosaMike Heitzmann, athletic trainer Ryan Morrison and director of ops Miles Vaughn. Morrison proved especially adept at deflating the balls, making up for Pizza Hut gate days prior.

With that, Maryland’s traveling circus is headed home. It has been a successful trip for the Terps, but a long one, and everyone is ready to get back to College Park and continue the growth process that this trip has begotten. Maryland’s players and staff have enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime experience, filled with, above all else, the development of a team dynamic that you can’t get in normal circumstances. Maryland’s players came across the pond with a point to prove and they proved it. 11 goals scored, zero conceded in 270 minutes of play. A style of football pleasing to the eye, with a flying frontline backed up by a steely defensive unit, connected by composed midfield play. The awakening of new influences combined with the maturity of old ones, creating a formula that could play huge dividends as Maryland heads towards a fall season with something to prove after the bitter end to its last two campaigns.

Maryland came to England to play “Maryland Soccer”, and boy did they. It is a group that will be remembered by everyone that they came in contact as a professional outfit that represented its school and its state with class on the field and maturity off it.

Get ready College Park, it’s going to be a fun fall.

One last time from across the pond, the #EnglandTerps bid you adieu.  

Day 7

After a day of sightseeing it was back to the pitch for Maryland, who would face off with Queens Park Rangers in their final match of a so far successful England tour. “The Hoops” ply their trade in the English League Championship, one step below the Premier League, but were recently in the top flight of English football in during the 2014-15 season. Apparently, the kit sponsor for QPR is the Maltese online casino Royal Panda. Sure, why not.

Pandas or no pandas, QPR looked to be Maryland’s toughest test of the trip. The Hoops trotted out it’s full U-23 reserves, a team that included players that had appeared for the club’s first team. The heavy legged turtles would need to rise to the occasion at Harlington Training Ground on the outskirts of London just a stones throw away from Heathrow Airport.

The XI: St. Clair; Gasper, Bergmann, Pines, Ben Di Rosa; Samuels, Sejdic, Elney; Reeves, Matzelevich, Bin.

Highlights

Rise to the occasion they did. The Terps smashed QPR 5-0 in a game that they stayed on the front foot throughout. Sebastian Elney (of The Middle singing fame) slotted home minutes in after some good combination play from Paul Bin and Chase Gasper on the left flank. Amar Sejdic finished off an Eric Matzelevich layoff minutes later for his first tally of the trip, and the Terps went into the interval with a 2-0 lead.

Paul Bin continued his scorching spring with a goal early in the second half that essentially put the game away. Bin was then fouled just outside the box, drawing a red card on the opposing keeper. Johannes Bergmann expertly curled in the ensuing free kick to make it four. Gio Vasquez tallied late to make it 5-0, and tried to keep his celebration demur in respect to the blowout. He couldn’t help put smile though when Donovan Pines raised him toward the heavens. A tip of the cap to Gio, who missed all of last season recovering from an injury.

The defensive effort was strong again, as Bergmann and Pines dealt expertly with a talented QPR frontline through the middle, and Gasper and Ben Di Rosa cleaned things up on the flanks. The central pairing performance was especially impressive considering QPR's deployment of first team striker and French Guinea international Idrissa Sylla, who played with the reserves after working his way back from injury. Maryland’s connected defensive effort, with Andrew Samuels providing his usual sturdy play in front of the back four, throughout the three matches resulted in a trio of clean sheets and general lack of scoring chances from the opposition. Pines even played peacemaker after a hard tackle on DJ Reeves in the second half. It was a do it all day for the big man, who is probably the nicest peacemaker in all of England.

Up Next: That’s it for soccer in England, as the Terps will have another day in London Saturday before a late morning flight back to the US on late Sunday morning.

Day 6

London calling!

Sorry, we had too.

It’s day six for the Terps as they’ve reached the back half of their trip to England. They have settled in Woking, a town on the outskirts of London that was apparently the setting for the HG Wells classic War of the Worlds. Your scribe is embarrassed to admit he knows little about the storied tale, but they did make a Tom Cruise movie about it. So there ya go.

Anyway, after a light training session on a field that sat above a parking lot (seriously), which included some fierce games of 5-v-2, the Terps engaged in a day of sightseeing. It was an educational opportunity for the Terps, who were able to view some of the city’s great historical sights. After team photos in front of Westminster Abbey, 16 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace (bringing the unofficial team photo count on the trip to around 10,182) Maryland’s players and staff were left to their own devices to explore around Picadilly Circus.

Your scribe ventured out with strength coach Ben Hoffman and athletic trainer Ryan Morrison. Morrison is also your scribe’s roommate on this long journey, but may have jeopardized his standing among the support staff after purchasing two pieces of Pizza Hut pizza at an outdoor stand. Now, your scribe has no problem with Pizza Hut (although he is a firm and passionate Dominos man), but to come to a city as cultural as London and buy Pizza Hut is a diabolical move. Your scribe and Mr. Hoffman gave him the appropriate ribbing you can be sure.

Maryland’s players regathered and jumped on the bus around 5:15 local time for the ride back to Woking, but not before more mafia and some song. It was Chase Gasper at the helm of mafia this time and the stories became that much more outrageous. Spare a thought for Fola Adetola, who gets jumped on at the beginning of pretty much every game. We here at The Blog are rooting for you, Fola.

For the record, the group played ONE GAME of mafia over the 90-minute bus ride. The mafia of Morrison, Dayne St. Clair, Ben Di Rosa and Mike Heitzmann won the game, with Heitzmann outlasting six citizens to end the game. Un. Real.

What was the song you ask? The Florida boys Andrew Samuels and Sebastian Elney, sitting out of the mafia proceedings this time, gave a wonderful duet performance of the Zedd/Maren Morris hit “The Middle” (FIRE JAM). Shout out to Seba’s falsetto. If the Terps aren’t careful, they may lose him to The London Chorus.

Up Next: The Terps will play their final match of the week against the Queens Park Rangers U-23s… and probably play mafia.

Day 5

Well Manchester, it’s been real. The Terps departed the city that has friendship agreement with Los Angeles (the more you know!) and headed through the middle of England to Leicester. Leicester is probably best known to Americans as the home of the shock 2016 Premier League champions Leicester City FC. The Foxes overcame their FIVE THOUSAND-TO-ONE ODDS (*NBC Sports commercial) and some of the biggest clubs in the world to claim the most cherished prize in English football. It was one of the great underdog stories in the history of sports and will be remembered for however long they are kicking footballs in England.

But back to the Terps. It was match day two for the England-trotting turtles and Holmes Park in Leicester would play host to the middle game of the tour. So who would be Maryland’s opponent? Oh yeah that’s right… Leicester City!! The club put out a combination of its successful U-23 and U-18 outfits for a midafternoon kickoff. The boys from College Park would be in for a tough test against the Foxes.

The XI: St. Clair; Gasper, Bergmann, Pines, Ben Di Rosa; Samuels, Sejdic, Elney; Reeves, Matzelevich, Bin.

Not a bad time for your best performance of the spring! After a back-and-forth first 10 minutes, Maryland controlled the majority of possession and came away with a 3-0 victory over LCFC. The absolutely en fuegooooo Paul Bin scored two, his first turning the tide of the match in the first half. Bin added a second early in the second 45 and the Terps built off it, showing great quality in all areas of the field.

Mike Heitzmann put an exclamation point on the match, turning in a dangerous Eli Crognale cross with a bullet diving header.  Maryland’s backline performed well for the second consecutive match and Sejdic and Samuels anchored the effort in the center of the park. Sebastian Elney and Eric Matzelevich were a dangerous combination further up the pitch.

Post-match, the Terps boarded their coach and headed to London, the final destination of their tour. On the bus, Maryland’s players engaged in some spirited games of mafia. Special shout out to Dayne St. Clair, who moderated a clean and fair game. As your scribe has found, moderating a game of mafia can cause stress and pain for the one that does it. Dayne, cheers to you. And for those wondering, the village won game one.

Up Next: London, here come the Terps. Maryland will engage in a training session before some sightseeing in one of the world’s great cities.

Day 4

It was a day with the Red Devils for the Terps on a balmy (compared to what we’ve had so far) day in Manchester. After a hearty English breakfast, the travel party rolled to Old Trafford for a tour of the famed “Theater of Dreams”. The tour included a look at United’s first team dressing room, press and VIP areas and a walk out on to the pitch. At the behest of head man Sasho Cirovski, an admirer of legendary United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, the players lined up as two squads for a traditional walk out, with Andrew Samuels and Amar Sejdic leading the two sides out. Fun was had by all.

Cirovski then stood at the perch of current MUFC manager Jose Mourinho and was asked to bark some orders to his imaginary players. His first order? “Come on Seb!” in reference to forward Sebastian Elney. We hope Seba eventually hears that in a match setting at Old Trafford.

Following a trip through the wonderfully well-done Manchester United Museum and a trip to the club’s Super Store (that’s not just any store), the Terps made the journey to the club’s Aon Training Complex. Nestled in the countryside town of Carrington, the state-of-the-art complex houses Manchester United’s first-team practices and academy set up. Of particular interest to the players was the whereabouts of United’s first team squad. Unfortunately for them, especially Sejdic, who flat out asked where his hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic was to the Terps’ great tour guide, the club’s stars are off on international break.

The day finished with a quick practice at a local field, final preparation for Maryland’s match with Leicester City on Wednesday. The session ended with a friendly (we think) crossbar challenge showdown between the brothers Cirovski, Sasho and Vancho. Sash made one first, Vanch made one on his pressure packed last try. We will call this one a tie.

Up Next: Maryland will depart mid-morning for Leicester to play a combination of Leicester City’s U-23 and U-19 sides. The Terps will then go immediately to London, where they will stay for the remainder of the trip.

Day 3

MATCH DAY! Finally some friendly competition in an international friendly (see what we did there) on day three in England. The Terps originally scheduled match with Stoke City’s U-23 squad was canceled due to poor pitch conditions at the Premier League club’s training ground. The traveling turtles found a willing opponent in Connah’s Quay Nomads FC and boarded a bus to make the scenic hour and 15 minute journey through the English countryside and across the Wales boarder to Connah’s Quay, Deeside, Wales. The Nomads set up was a combination of first team and reserve side players. The club plies its trade in the Welsh Premier League and sits second in the table this season.

The XI: St. Clair; Gasper, Bergmann, Pines, Ben Di Rosa; Samuels, Sejdic, Elney; Reeves, Matzelevich, Bin.

Photo Gallery

Highlights

Maryland controlled much of the match and came away with a 3-0 victory. Paul Bin made his presence known throughout the first half with dangerous runs down the left flank and was rewarded 24 minutes in. The junior received a pass down the left, cut past a defender in the box and finished tidily past the keeper to the back post.

The Terps added two more tallies early in the second half. DJ Reeves matched his winger mate Bin with a clean finish from the right side of the box. Reeves then combined with Sebastian Elney minutes later, slipping a pass through to his fellow senior before Elney smashed the ball into the back of the net.

Maryland’s backline was largely untroubled through and keeper Dayne St. Clair did not face much stress between the sticks.  

Up Next: It is a full day of Manchester United for the Terps, who will tour the famed Old Trafford before a private tour of the club’s Carrington Training Ground. Your scribe will certainly not be wearing his Eden Hazard Chelsea shirt to the home of the rival club. He wouldn't dare.

Or would he.

Day 2

It was a day of history and community as the Terps took on day two of their England tour.

The history came in the form of a morning trip to the National Football Museum in downtown Manchester. The Museum, which moved to Manchester in 2012, houses the history of English football, from its humble origins in the birthplace of football to the glitz and glamour of the Premier League era today. Maryland’s players observed stories of legendary English players like Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best and David Beckham, just to name a few.

The Terps took a quick detour after the museum visit to check out the Etihad Stadium. Home of Premier League leaders (and future champions) Manchester City, the stadium was originally build for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and since the late 2000s rise of its tenant club, now is home to one of the most talent-laden sides in all of Europe.

Taking page out of The Crew’s “everywhere we follow” mantra, Mother Nature brought College Park’s weather to England over the first two days. Bitter cold, high winds and a dusting of snow forced Maryland’s Sunday training session indoors to the Trafford Sportsdome, home of five-a-side football pitches and a basketball arena home of the Manchester Giants of the top tier British Basketball League. Playing aside the youth of Manchester and some of the city’s finest Sunday League talent, Coach Cirovski put the Terps through a solid hour of work, final prep for their match with Stoke City U-23s on Monday.

After training, Maryland’s players gathered in a private room at the Hallmark to watch the final FA Cup Quarterfinal between Chelsea and Leicester City. Much to your scribe’s delight, Chelsea progressed into the last four via Pedro’s extra time headed finish.

Day 1

The Terps departed Dulles Airport just after 8 p.m. Friday night, arriving at London’s Heathrow Airport early morning. After a four and a half hour drive to Manchester, the Terps settled it at the Hallmark in before afternoon training at Belle Vue Stadium, where the weather was… chilly.

Fun fact about the stadium; it doubles as a greyhound track and stock car track. Don’t see many greyhound/stock car doubles in Maryland.

Night one continued as the Terps grabbed a quick dinner in downtown Manchester prior to the FA Cup quarterfinal at Old Trafford between storied Manchester United and upstart Premier League side Brighton Hove & Albion. Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s men treated Maryland’s players and staff to a… practical performance, with former Chelsea striker Romalu Lukaku and former Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic scoring in a 2-0 United victory (your scribe may have some allegiance to the Blues).

Up Next: Another day of training and a trip to the National Football Museum highlight Maryland’s second day across the pond.  

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