The Baltimore Bays will make their home debut against the Raleigh Flyers tonight under the lights at UMBC Stadium.
The Bays -- in their inaugural season in the United States Interregional Soccer League -- have players from the defunct Baltimore Blast and Maryland Bays, along with some new local talent.
"We have experienced players in the midfield and we center the younger guys around them," said Bays coach Kevin Healey.
Bays defender Joe Barger, a former Blast, is team captain.
"I've been out of soccer over a year and its a nice feeling to get back on the field again," Barger said. "We've got a wide array of talent and we're playing with a lot of younger guys."
Barger will lead the Bays' defense, which includes fellow Loyola College graduates John Karpovich and Jeff Nattans.
Healey hopes that newcomers Joe Layfield (Towson State's top scorer) and forwards John Stroud and All-American Steve Quaranta (Essex Community College) will add to the team's scoring efforts.
Former Blast player Billy Ronson and Barger have accounted for the Bays' scoring. Blast veteran Mark Mettrick, who was in England last week but is scheduled to make his first start tonight, is also expected to pace the offense.
The Bays (0-2) have gotten off to a rough start, dropping their first two Atlantic Division games by a one-goal margin and a sudden-death shootout to Delaware and Connecticut, respectively.
Tonight's Atlantic Division game opens the season for Raleigh.
"The chemistry on the field is pretty good, those were two games we felt we could have won, but we thought our effort on Saturday was very good," Healey said.
Barger said the team only scrimmaged twice before the season officially opened last week. Practice times are difficult to arrange because most of the players work full-time jobs, he said.
Barger, an investment insurance broker who has been in New Orleans on business this week, will fly in for tonight's game and then return to Louisiana.
While he's in the game, fans may get an opportunity to see Barger execute his flip throw-in: he does a hand spring to get more lift on his throws from the sideline.
"Someone asked me to do it in a scrimmage, and I told them I didn't know if I could do it anymore," Barger said. He later successfully performed the maneuver against Connecticut.
Opponent: Raleigh Flyers
Site: UMBC Stadium
Outlook: This United States Interregional Soccer League Atlantic Division game is the home opener for the Bays (0-2) and the season opener for the Flyers. The Bays want to rebound from last weekend, when they lost to division foes Delaware (2-1) and Connecticut (2-1 in a shootout).