Maryland Men's Soccer started the season with two wins in their first three games, and displayed a fluid, high octane attack. They had a versatile group of forwards, and good connection between their defense and the attack on the wings. Since then it's been one win in five games and in their last four games they've scored two goals. The chances and goals have dried up, and while the defense has been rock solid, when one or two chances for the other team wind up as goals and the attack sputters...that means losses. Or the defense stands firm and the attack still sputters. That's what happened in the Terrapins first two conference games, 0-0 draws with Michigan and Michigan State. There's still plenty of time to re-ignite what has been a rough start to the season, and it starts on Sunday against Wisconsin.
In the attack, a lot more needs to come from the midfield. They need to start joining up with the attack and providing extra numbers in attack on crosses and to test the opposing goalkeeper with shots. The forwards, primarily Sebastien Elney and Eryk Williamson, are both very skilled and the ball and are able to create for themselves at times. But there's too often just no service. The midfielders, such as Mael Corboz and Amar Sejdic, have to get forward more, play some balls out wide to get crosses in the box, and then finish those runs. And don't just be content with playing balls into the feet of forwards, even if their good with their back to goal. Have a shot on goal. Or have a give and go with a forward and try to stretch the defense out of position. There just needs to be fresh ideas instead of the same stagnation that seems to occur for large stretches in the middle of the match. There is talent on this team and they are capable of finding some juice going forward. Just have to do it.
On the defensive side of things, Maryland should be able to contain a rather pedestrian Wisconsin attack. The Badgers have seven goals in seven games and have averaged five shots on goals per game, with thirteen SOG coming in one game. I don't like to play the "if you take this away" game, because then we're no longer talking about what's happened, but without those thirteen shots it drops to four shots on goal per game. Christopher Mueller is the Badgers biggest threat, and he's a guy who finds goals any way he can. He's not a big threat through the air, or with his pace in behind, but he follows up on rebounds, and he's got a knack for finding the net. And that's a trait for Wisconsin as a team. Their goals won't often be pretty. They're going to follow up on clearances and make it scrappy. And Maryland has struggled with clearing the ball away and playing out of the back at times, including in the Georgetown game where a failed clearance resulted in a Hoyas goal. They'll have to be on top of the things at that end vs Wisconsin.
The Badgers have height at the back but it's not particularly imposing or anything that would make you shy away from your gameplan if your gameplan was to bomb down the wings and put balls in the box. I don't necessarily think that would be Maryland's choice of attack, I think they'll try to be balanced and include different avenues to score. But they did have success with balls played in behind on the wings and crosses being whipped in that resulted in goals earlier in the season. It might not be a bad idea to try it again. Though any way they can create chances and find a goal would be a good one for this team.
Game time is 1 PM Sunday from Madison. It is being broadcast live on BTN. Make sure to follow Maryland Men's Soccer on Twitter here. And make sure to stop by Testudo Times for a post match recap.