Early Days Syndrome

By Paul O'Donnell

The new season got off to a good start at Carey Stadium with the Baron's Adam Sternberger cashing in an early goal.  The offense created a number of good chances in the remainder of that opening half but the score remained 1-0.  The good thing was that we saw the new rendition of the Ocean City Barons creating those opportunities.  As it turned out, the Barons conceded a late goal (87th minute) and the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

That was followed by another strong performance at the West Virginia Chaos that also ended in a draw, this one a 0-0 deadlock.  Again, the Barons produced a number of opportunities a few of which were just inches away from finding the net.  The defense was strong again and limited the Chaos to few chances in this one.

The long ride down the peninsula to Virginia Beach to face the PDL newboys, the Submariners, who started their inaugural run with 2 victories on the road, promised to bring with it the sternest test of the young season.  The Barons answered the bell with another strong opening half but the Submariners tallied the initial goal at the stroke of halftime.  Then, the Barons lost a player to a 2nd yellow and were shorthanded for the final 20 minutes of the match conceding twice while playing 10 v 11.

Is there a message here?  Successful teams in any sport go through a process that makes them a better team in the end by rising above adversity.  Some would say the process builds character.  I'd say character is what fuels the desire to work to overcome the challenges and working through that process is what builds a team.

Manchester United in the most recent season of the EPL is a great example.  They began their season with a difficult period that saw them score only two goals in their first 5 games on their home turf at Old Trafford.  That dip in form and other influences as well saw them fall completely out of the European competition before they gathered themselves and regained their customary form.  In the end,  their "development" or growth as a team carried them to a strong 2nd in the league as they closed the gap on Chelsea finishing the campaign with a characteristic flourish.

This Barons team is in the midst of the process here in the 'early days' of the new season.   Some pundits use the term 'gel' or perhaps 'running on all cylinders' to express the end result of the process.  Others might say 'growth' while sophisticates would use the term 'maturity' and in England you often hear the expression "in form" to describe the goal all teams work for and few achieve in any given season for more than a few games.  Those that manage to sustain that level become champions.

Regardless of the term it is a lofty goal that is difficult to reach and even harder to maintain for any individual let alone a team.  In nearly every sport you see a team achieve that in form state for a short run but its extremely difficult to stay there for very long.

I always think of the Blue Angels whenever I ponder the workings of a team.  Consider this: it is very hard work to fly a high performance jet aircraft and even harder to fly it very slowly, very close to the ground.  Not to mention it also happens to be pretty dangerous too.  In that situation the airplane might be just a few mph away from becoming a rock instead of an airplane.


Just to make it even harder, you become part of a group of seven others with the lives of most of the group totally dependent on each other.  It always amazed me when I thought of how difficult it must be for a single person to get so intimate with the machine to do what they make it do.  Its baffling to think of what it takes for each to become such a precise part of the team to pull off the stunts that they do without a disaster every other day.

That is the essence of team and to get there, they all have to go through that thing called process.  Call it what you will; it is also what the 'D' in PDL is all about too.  It will be more than interesting to watch that happen.

Will this Barons group emerge from the "early days" and achieve that "in form" status?  It would be very surprising if they didn't.