Maryland Men's Soccer got their campaign underway at Louisville, with the Cardinals opening up a brand new Lynn Stadium, which is really nice to be honest. The Terps come in to the season ranked #2, as I'm sure you've heard on the site and the favorite to win the Big Ten. But before Big Ten play, they meet a team who you could say "took their place" in the ACC. And it was Louisville who came out on top 1-0.
Maryland started the first half energetically, hassling and harrying UofL in the midfield and setting up a very high press. The Terps also had a healthy possession advantage in the first 10 minutes, comfortably passing the ball around and leaving Louisville to mainly route one balls up top. The Cards had the first big chance of the night however, springing a quick counter but Zack Steffen made a comfortable save. Another Maryland giveaway gave Louisville an opportunity with Romilio Hernandez blasting a shot off the crossbar.
The next 10 minutes were much more subdued. Both teams had spells of the play but neither was able to carve out any decent chances, and the game was certainly a cagey affair after the first 20 minutes. Maryland developed a better rhythm soon after, comfortably passing it around and getting a few shots off, but none tested Louisville's GK Joachim Ball.
The rest of the half played out in a similar fashion. Maryland was mainly in control, dictating the play, but not creating many chances. The first half ended 0-0.
Despite the cagey, and frankly boring tenor of the first half, there were some good performances from a few Terrapins, particularly Dan Metzger and Tsubasa Endoh.
By the way, the commentators for this game absolutely sucked.
Louisville started the second half on top, however much you could be on top in this particular game. They were able to push high up the field a bit more, and it paid off in the 54th minute. They attacked through Velasco down the wing who whipped in a cross to a free Andrew Brody who headed home to put Louisville up 1-0. For all of Maryland's great defensive organization, they fell asleep a bit there and fell behind.
Maryland picked it up over the next few minutes, but the story remained the same: difficulty carving out many clear cut chances. The pace with which they moved the ball was also an issue, a lot of the build-up was slow, plodding, and easy to defend.
The Terps kept up the pressure, pressing high up the field and forcing UofL into unnecessary giveaways in the midfield. They were able to create a chance in the 76th minute, forcing a quasi-difficult save from Joachim Ball. One big issue during the second half for Maryland was the quality of their set pieces. They had quite a few chances, and were never able to get a shot off, let alone on target.
Maryland's dominance of the ball continued, but they were continually frustrated going for. Then with 4 minutes left, arguably the Terps best player on the night, Tsubasa Endoh, was sent off for a "shove" that was absolutely harmless. It was a yellow card at worst, but for some reason the referee saw it necessary to send Endoh off.
Maryland was able to create a few half chances on crosses into the box, but wasn't able to find the back of the net.
Final: Louisville 1-0 Maryland
While it's disappointing to start the season off with a loss, Maryland did show some positive signs. They were very organized defensively all night, they controlled the midfield well and were able to move the ball well, and they were on top for most of the night. Just one moment where they switched off, and not being able to create clear cut opportunities is what cost them. But they showed some good things, and losing to a Top 15 Louisville squad on the road is nothing to be ashamed of.
Maryland's next game is the home opener at Ludwig on Monday, Sept. 1st vs Coastal Carolina.