With the National Indoor Soccer League in offseason mode, several of the 2009 NISL Champion Baltimore Blast players have left the Baltimore area to join their United Soccer League (USL) team for the summer outdoor season.
Eight Blast players played in the USL this summer – Matt Watson (Carolina RailHawks), Scott Buete (Charleston Battery), Jonathan Greenfield (Minnesota Thunder), Pat Healey (Crystal Palace Baltimore), Ryan Pierce (Crystal Palace Baltimore), Machel Millwood (Crystal Palace Baltimore), Dave Kern (Real Maryland Monarchs) and Adrian Bumbut (Richmond Kickers).
Watson, Buete and Greenfield played in the USL’s First Division while Healey, Peirce, Millwood, Kern and Bumbut played in the USL-2.
At the end of the USL-1 regular season, Watson and his RailHawks claimed second place with a 16-7-7 record while Buete and the Battery tied for third place with a 14-5-11 record. Greenfield’s Thunder went 7-13-10 on the season. Buete played in 28 games, Greenfield played in 26 games and Watson, who broke his fibula in the last game of the regular season, played 19 games. Watson recorded one goal and one assist on the season. Buete, who had three goals and three assists on the season (nine points), was named to the USL First Division Team of the Week twice this season - on August 11 and again on September 1.
In Quarterfinal play, the RailHawks, who boasted the best record in franchise history this season, lost to the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Battery lost to the Montreal Impact.
The Semifinals pitted the regular season champion Portland Timbers against the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Puerto Rico Islanders against the Montreal Impact.
Montreal won the Championship with a 3-2 win over Vancouver in the first game of the USL-1 Championship, and again, 3-1, in Game Two of the two-leg, aggregate-goal series.
Crystal Palace, featuring Healey, Pierce and Millwood, ended the regular season a 6-9-5 record, with Healey having appeared in 19 games, Pierce in 15 games and Millwood in nine (he made his debut on May 29 against Real Maryland). Healey scored his first goal of the season on June 19 in the 2-1 win over the Bermuda Hogges and had two goals and one assist on the season. Millwood recorded a goal and an assist in Crystal Palace's 2-1 victory over the Wilmington Hammerheads on June 13 and had one goal and two assists for the season.
Bumbut, whose Kickers won the USL-2 Championship, played in 16 games for the 11-3-6 Kickers and Kern played 13 games for Real Maryland (8-10-2). Bumbut had three goals on the season while Kern went 5-6-2 on the season with four shutouts.
Kern and the Monarchs and Bumbut's Kickers advanced to the USL-2 playoffs. Real Maryland lost, 3-1, to the Charlotte Eagles in the Quarterfinals and the Kickers beat the Harrisburg City Islanders, 1-0, in the Semifinals. The Kickers went on to defeat the Eagles, 3-1, on Saturday, August 29 at the University of Richmond Stadium in the Championship.
In addition to USL regular season play, all six of the Blast players' USL teams participated in the 2009 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup that started on June 9. In the first round of the Open Cup, the Carolina RailHawks beat the Richmond Kickers, 2-1, the Charleston Battery earned a 2-0 win over Atlanta FC, the Minnesota Thunder defeated the Nebraksa 402, 3-0, Crystal Palace lost, 3-0, to the Ocean City Barons and Real Maryland defeated the Aegean Hawks, 1-0.
The second round took place on June 16 with Carolina losing on penalty kicks to the Wilmington Hammerheads (USL-2), Minnesota beating the Chicago Fire PDL team, 4-0, Real Maryland losing, 1-0, to the Ocean City Barons (PDL) and the Charleston Battery earning a 1-0 victory over the Miami FC (USL-1).
In the third round, Buete's Battery defeated Chivas USA (MLS), 3-1, and Greenfield and the Thunder tied the Kansas City Wizards (MLS), 3-3, in regulation before losing in penalty kicks.
In the Quarterfinals, the Battery lost, 4-0, to the Houston Dynamo (MLS). Seattle defeated DC United, 2-1, in the Final on September 2.
The U.S. Open Cup, the oldest cup competition in United States soccer, is among the oldest in the world, dating back to 1914. Open to all affiliated amateur and professional teams in the United States, the annual U.S. Open Cup celebrated its 95th tournament in 2009.
The USL season runs through September 20th and the Second Division regular season ended in mid-August.