For anyone who has grown up in Maryland as a soccer fan, if you don’t get excited about UMBC vs Maryland then you probably need to check this out.
Two local programs rich in history.
Two long-tenured, successful head coaches who love the game and recruit top local talent.
Two coaching staffs who have worked so hard to develop a close-knit, family atmosphere over the years, helping these young men develop both on and off the field, all while assuring them that they will forever be part of a special Terp or Retriever family.
The University of Maryland Terps, currently ranked number three in the country and yet to lose a game this season, take a short bus ride to Baltimore County tonight to take on UMBC at Retriever Park at 7pm.
I could tell you about Hermann Trophy-hopeful Gordon Wild and the Terps’ talented offense, made up of guys like Eryk Williamson and Jake Rozhansky.
Or we could talk about UMBC’s 1-0 victory over Maryland in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament.
But you can read about all of that stuff on each school’s website:
I want to talk about the two guys at the helm of each program…head coaches Sasho Cirovski of Maryland and Pete Caringi of UMBC, two head coaches who are extremely involved in the local soccer community who paid their dues before finding success.
Two Head Coaches who LIVE The Game
Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski and UMBC head coach Pete Caringi both started their collegiate head coaching careers in 1991, 26 years ago… meaning they’ve been coaching for a lot longer than any of their current players have been alive. Two of the best coaches in the Nation who have been coaching Division 1 soccer for a combined 52 years, but both men have been students of the beautiful game for even longer than that.
Pete Caringi, Baltimore
Coach Caringi had a successful collegiate playing career at local University of Baltimore, earning All-American accolades twice at the Division II school where he is the all-time leading scorer and, to this day, is ranked 21st all-time in Division II goals scored with 70. Coach Caringi won a Division 2 National Championship with University of Baltimore in 1975, and later went on to play for the Washington Diplomats in 1978.
The Diplomats made the playoffs that year, before getting knocked out in the first round by a Portland Timbers side which made it to the Conference Finals before losing to eventual NASL Champions, the New York Cosmos. The Cosmos eventually went on to win their third of five NASL Championships, despite losing Pele the season prior.
How about this for a few names, the NASL All-Star team that season included:
- The late great Giorgio Chinaglia, as polarizing figure off of the field as he was on it. The Italian scored 193 goals in 213 Cosmos games, not a bad strike rate.
- Rodney Marsh, one of the best NASL players of all time (Tampa Bay Rowdies) and a former Manchester City legend, making 188 appearances for the club, and 211 appearances for QPR prior to that, scoring 106 goals in 6 seasons for the London club.
- Carlos Alberto, who captained Brazil in 1970, winning a World Cup.
- Franz Beckenbauer, who needs no introduction….Der Kaiser won 5 Bundesliga titles, 3 European Cups (aka Champions League), 2 Ballon d’Ors, four German Player of the Year awards, a World Cup in 1974, and a Euro Title in 1972 as a player… before going on as a manager to help Germany win the 1990 World Cup, a Bundesliga title with Bayern in 1993-94, along with a European Cup in 1995-96.
- George Best was an All-Star Honorable Mention
- Former DC United manager and current legendary soccer commentator Ray Hudson was second-team NASL All-Star that season.
After his season with the Diplomats, Coach Caringi laced up his boots in the Maryland Majors Soccer League, which makes you think about his son Pete III currently helping Christos become a Nationally-recognized name. He later went on to be the assistant coach of the Maryland Bays professional side, eventually taking over head coaching duties in 1990 and then taking over at UMBC in 1991 at the age of 36, still considered young for a Division 1 head coach.
Spend 10 minutes speaking to Coach Caringi and you’ll realize how passionate he is about the game, especially when it comes to soccer in Charm City. The Baltimore native is more than happy to tell you about the old days of Highlandtown and Patterson Park Soccer, and how many former USMNT players grew up in his old stomping grounds of Southeast Baltimore (from a 2011 interview):
“Every Sunday at Patterson Park,” Pete Caringi said. “It was neighborhood against neighborhood and a lot of times friend against friend.”
Caringi played for Pompei and Perrella on the Baltimore Kickers. The Mangione brothers, Nick and Dino, played for La Dolce Vita and Ernie Cox for Casa Bianco. There were Dnipro and Tom’s Produce, Tommy’s Lounge and Post 38, the Baltimore Bays and Baltimore Comets.
There was passion and pride, talent and tradition.
“You come in here and see the love everyone has for Pep,” Caringi said, “and it takes you back to those days. And it’s not just a Curley thing or a Calvert Hall thing. They’re from everywhere — Patterson, Mount St. Joe, Dundalk — all the club players from years ago. It just says a lot about the soccer community in general.”
A quick personal story…I grew up in PG County, played in the DC-area WISL adult amateur league for a few seasons before moving to Baltimore. I ended up playing a few seasons in the Maryland Majors league for a Baltimore Colts team which competed for the US Open Cup, a few years before Christos was making all of the headlines, and here’s what I’ll tell you about Baltimore amateur soccer (compared to DC)…tackles are coming in, and you’re going to be sore on Monday mornings at work.
Guys take pride in the soccer-rich heritage here in the Baltimore area, from the Baltimore Kickers clubhouse that could always be seen on Broadway Street in the heart of Fells Point, to the Italy World Cup posters hanging on the walls at the local favorite deli here in Highlandtown, Di Pasquale’s. There’s the Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame in nearby DuBurns Arena, which includes a number of old Baltimore names, along with a game ball from Christos’ US Open Cup run last season.
A few random old school Baltimore soccer pics
Coach Caringi has a .610 win percentage over a 26-year career. His 276 wins makes him the 26th-winningest active coach in the country, turning the small Baltimore-area school with only 13,640 students (compared to Maryland with 38,140) and somewhat meager resources (when compared to coaches of other National powerhouse programs on that list) into a Nationally-recognized program which has made 5 NCAA Tournament appearances, including the recent Cinderella Final Four run in 2014.
A local coach who came up living, breathing, and eating Baltimore soccer, who still pays respect to the greats before him and has managed to build a program by recruiting local players who will take as much pride as he does in seeing Baltimore soccer continue to flourish.
Sasho Cirovski, College Park
University of Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski is the fifth-winningest active head coach in NCAA Division 1 soccer, with a 390-144 record leading up to this season. His .710 win percentage over 26 seasons is ahead of programs who seem to be nationally-ranked every season, such as UVA, Notre Dame, UCLA, and other powerhouse programs. But if you think that Coach Cirovski started his winning ways as soon as he arrived in College Park back in 1993, you’re sorely mistaken.
Before the Macedonian-Canadian soccer coach took the reigns for the Terps, the University of Maryland’s men’s soccer program only made ONE NCAA Tournament appearance since 1976. ONE NCAA Tournament appearance (in 1986) in 17 seasons, so it would be hard to say that he inherited a competitive program.
Coach Cirovski didn’t grow up in the DMV. He grew up on the borderline of poverty, living in a small Balctic town called Vratnica in Macedonia, where he used the beautiful game to escape some of the harsh reality surrounding him.
Cirovski’s ambition was forged early, those who know him say, during his hardscrabble youth in the sleepy Balkan town of Vratnica.
There, Cirovski and his family lived in several rooms atop a barn filled with livestock: chickens, pigs, cows and horses.
“We had no bathrooms, hot water or refrigerator,” he said. “We took baths in a small tub in the kitchen, by the wood stove. But we probably grew up healthy. There was no candy in our lives.”
His parents were factory workers, poorly-educated but proud of what little they could give their three children.
Cirovski’s father, Trpemir – friends called him “Terp” – slogged around Europe in search of work. In better times, he would scrape to buy a soccer ball and send it home to his sons, Sasho and Vancho. “The whole village would play with that ball for a month, until it wore out,” Cirovski said. After that, they made do with substitutes. “Whenever a pig was slaughtered, we’d save the bladder, blow it up like a balloon and kick it around,” recalled Vancho Cirovski, 49.
“We’d play soccer wherever we were – on a hill, in the forest or on a riverbank,” the Maryland coach said. “We never saw games on TV because there were no TVs, but we heard older people talk about the great players. You developed an embedded love for the game. It became part of my DNA.”
Cirovski was 8 when his family emigrated to Windsor, Ontario. There, his father toiled long hours in a factory making car bumpers until being laid off for 22 months during the recession of the mid-1970s.”We were poorer than dirt and always in debt,” said Cirovski, by then a fast-rising player. “But if I needed to make a soccer trip, he would find a way to borrow $20.People trusted him to pay it back.”
For two summers, Cirovski labored beside his dad in the factory.”You came home from work with junk up your nose and dust all over your body, like in a coal mine,” he said. And he thought: The clock is ticking.
His father’s death at 52 upped the ante. “Life is the race for happiness,” Cirovski said, “I knew then that all I wanted to do was to live, eat and breathe soccer.” He has gone full tilt ever since.
“Sash works extra hard because he’s afraid of going backward,” said Vancho Cirovski, a self-employed entrepreneur in Windsor. “He remembers not having things. It’s always ‘go forward’ with him.”
Coach Cirovski’s desire to succeed can obviously be traced back to his days as a boy, where he had to endure hardships that would later in life make him the father of a Terps’ soccer family that has produced a countless number of professional soccer players.
Always remembering these experiences allowed him to continue to power through early struggles in his first few seasons in College Park… the feeling when you’re in a tough spot, but you know you’ve been through a HECK of a lot worse. He has since been able to successfully build the University of Maryland men’s soccer program into a National Powerhouse, despite going 3-14-1 in his first season, followed by four consecutive NCAA Tournament second round eliminations: University of Virginia in 1994, James Madison in 1995 via penalty kick shootout (a game my father drove me all the way to Harrisonburg to watch), William and Mary in 1996, and American University in 1997.
Since then, Coach Cirovski and The Terps have:
- Won NINE Conference Tournament Championships
- Won Four regular season Conference Championships
- Made EIGHTEEN NCAA Tournament Appearances, with Coach Cirovski’s first season and 2000 the only two seasons when they didn’t make it.
- Made it to the NCAA College Cup (NCAA Tournament Semifinals/Final Four) EIGHT times
- Made it to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals ELEVEN times
- Finished as NCAA Tournament Runners-Up once, in 2013
- Won a National Championship twice, in 2005 and 2008
All while producing a long list of professional players, including a number of consistent USMNT players:
- Taylor Twellman
- Jason Garey
- Abe Thompson
- Michael Dellorusso
- Domenic Mediate
- Danny Califf
- Omar Gonzalez
- Mikey Ambrose (Atlanta United FC)
- Marc Burch (Minnesota United FC)
- A. J. DeLaGarza (LA Galaxy) *
- Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union) *
- Tsubasa Endoh (Toronto FC)
- Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes) *
- Taylor Kemp (D.C. United)
- Zac MacMath (Colorado Rapids)
- Dan Metzger (New York Red Bulls)
- Patrick Mullins (D.C. United)
- Chris Odoi-Atsem (D.C. United)
- Robbie Rogers (LA Galaxy) *
- Chris Seitz (FC Dallas)
- Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew)
- John Stertzer (New York City FC)
- Rodney Wallace (New York City FC)
- Ethan White (New York City FC)
- London Woodberry (New England Revolution)
- Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
While Coach Cirovski didn’t grow up in the DMV area, he has established himself as one of the most respected coaches in the country, bringing a sense of pride to Maryland soccer. He can be seen at a number of local USSDA, USYSA, and high school games, recruiting the area’s best talent. He and assistant coach Brian Roland have an incoming class next season which includes DMV locals Nick Richardson and Justin Gielen who both look to be the real deal, to add to the Terps’ long list of nationally-ranked youth prospects that they are able to lure to College Park year, after year, after year.
Love of the Game, something both coaches (and a lot of us) have in common
Coach Cirovski’s humble upbringing, work ethic, and early mindset that saw him eat, breath, and live soccer…. from his early days in a barn with roosters and no working bathroom or hot water, all the way through adulthood where he’s now the head coach of one of the Nation’s top men’s soccer programs….combined with Coach Caringi’s local upbringing and identical passion for the beautiful game, makes this matchup more than just two local programs playing under the lights tonight at Retriever Park. Both coaches bring unique life experiences to their coaching careers, both coaches run successful programs, both coaches have developed professional players.
But more importantly, both coaches STILL love the game as much as everyone that will be in the stands or watching from the live feed tonight, which is to be commended. We’re lucky to have them here in the DMV.