The 2011 MLS season ends tonight with the MLS Cup Final in Los Angeles, but a level down, the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament is just getting under way with the round of 32. FOne of those games is taking place here locally with the No. 5 rated Maryland Terrapins taking on the West Virginia Mountaineers. The match is at 5:00 p.m. at Ludwig Field in College Park, and I'll be there.
Maryland has reached the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals each of the past two years, but begin their quest today to return to the NCAA Final once again, just like they did in 2008. Oh yeah, and they won it all in 2005.
From a D.C. United perspective, this match has plenty of reasons to pay attention. Four D.C. United Academy will be in uniform, with two on each side. Uwem Etuk and Travis Pittman are both junior midfielders for the Mountaineers, have both spent some time with the U.S. National Team at the youth level, and both are set to start for their team today. Meanwhile, we'll likely see appearances off the Maryland bench from senior forward Matt Oduaran and freshman midfielder Mikias Eticha. Eticha has gotten to play with the United Reserve team a few times, and held his own. Of the group, he might be the most likely to develop into a potential homegrown signing in the coming years.
United fans should also take interest in Casey Townsend. The senior forward scored 13 goals in 19 matches this season for the Terrapins, and is a finalist for the Hermann Trophy. I think I know of a certain MLS team that might be looking for a target forward in the draft this offseason...
Maryland is the clear favorite in today's game, having already defeated the Mountaineers once this season, and claiming victories in this round of the tournament every single year since 2002.