A decent crowd was walking up to the stadium despite the 100-degree heat, the bagpipes were in effect, the staff was ready, the players were warming up …
Bzzzt … beep … blaaaaaare … bzzt.
That’s the static-electricity detector at the Maryland Soccerplex, telling everyone to get inside.
So for two hours, fans and players crowded into the gym at the Plex, waiting for the all-clear. The rain didn’t last long, but we were just close enough to a couple of passing storm cells to see some flashes and hear some rumbles, each one restarting the countdown until we could get the game underway.
The upside was that the game, once it started, was uninterrupted. The storm cooled off the Plex, and it turned into a very pleasant night with 100 or so fans remaining from the original crowd. Surely that crowd would’ve been more on a weekend — getting up I-270 to the Plex is difficult at rush hour — and the heat/storm forecast didn’t help.
The crowd included a group from New Jersey that stuck it out. Good for them for making the trip. The bad news was that they echoed the Wildcats’ coaching staff in hounding the refs throughout the game, at times inventing their own reality. I wound up in an argument with one gentleman who claimed the ref saw the retaliation (the Wildcat red card) but not the original foul on a late altercation. But Christie Welsh got a yellow — a debatable one — for the original foul. So surely the ref saw something.
The coaching staff didn’t put up much of an argument on the red card. That may have been a smart move, or they may have simply been hoarse from complaining about everything from physical play to throw-ins at midfield. Frankly, it was comical at times.
But the Wildcats have a solid team, strong at the back with a dangerous player in Kylee Rossi. The goal, an opportunistic long-range effort from Andrea Lopez, was well-taken. Both goalkeepers had solid games, with Emmy Simpkins making a couple of big late saves after starter Caroline Williams was hurt in a collision.
D.C. United has some communication issues, not surprising for a team that’s still being cobbled together. Welsh just got her clearance to play, as did former 2.Bundesliga player Hayley Siegel. The talent level is pretty strong, though, and Nairn stood out throughout with good runs in midfield and accurate, powerful long-range shots.
The weather may have thrown players off a bit. Long passes skipped on the wet turf, though the excellent Soccerplex field drains quickly.
These teams may see each other down the road. New Jersey has only two blemishes on its record — the tie with D.C. and a one-point deduction (if anyone knows why, please let me know). D.C. lost its opener 0-1 at New Jersey. As both teams come together, a late July playoff matchup could be something special.