MISL 2012-13 Season Preview
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Since his first season with the Baltimore Blast, when he won the Rookie of the Year award, Max Ferdinand has shown a natural ability for the indoor game. With a combination of speed and close control, the native of Haiti recorded 82 points in his first two seasons in the league.
Last season, though, the 25-year-old’s game took a major leap forward, beginning to fulfill the potential he had shown since his debut in 2009. Scoring 72 points, being named to the MISL All-League First Team, Ferdinand led the league in assists, and showed a remarkable efficiency with his shooting, scoring on average one goal for every three shots, by far the best in the league’s top 10 scorers.
The added maturity in his game last season was evident to Blast coach Danny Kelly, who handed Ferdinand his first professional contract after he decided to turn professional instead of moving onto college soccer upon his graduation from high school.
“I think he’s just grown with the game,” Blast coach Danny Kelly said. “In indoor, not a lot of guys are familiar with the game. Not a lot of kids grow up with the game, with the boards and everything like that, so Max, when he came to the first tryout, right away we knew he had something special. He’s got great technical ability, he can go by guys one-v-one, he’s strong on the ball, he can score, there’s nothing he can’t do, and it was just a matter of him maturing as a player and as a person and developing his game.”
For his part, Ferdinand is quick to pay tribute to his teammates for his breakthrough season. With the experience of teammates such as Adauto Neto and Machel Millwood, who also finished with 71 points a season ago as the other half of the Blast’s potent attacking duo, Ferdinand was safe in the knowledge that if he made the right runs, scoring chances would present themselves.
“Those guys make it so much easier for me,” Ferdinand said. “They know the game so well, you just make the run, they’ll find a way to get you the ball. When you play with a guy like Neto and Millwood, the game is so much easier. They’ve been around for so long, it makes my job so much easier.”
Having the ability to learn the indoor game from not only Millwood and Neto but also others like Mike Lookingland and Pat Morris has certainly been a boon for Ferdinand. Coming from an outdoor background, playing two seasons for the Rochester Rhinos in 2010 and 2011, the adaption to the tighter confines of the indoor game took adjustment.
As Ferdinand’s experience has grown, however, so has his confidence, which has been boosted by Kelly’s coaching influence.
“He’s a great coach” Ferdinand said. “He’s defensive-minded, but he’s a great coach. I’ve enjoyed it ever since I’ve been here, he gave me a great shot, I came here from Reading to try out here, and he gave me a shot to come play here and I’m enjoying playing for him. He’s a great guy to play for.”
For his part, Kelly is eager to see how Ferdinand’s play continues to evolve as he enters his fourth season in the league.
“In every game he has the ability to impact in a positive way for our squad,” Kelly said. “Whether it’s through scoring goals, whether it’s through creating goals, whether it’s through his work rate, he’s become much more of a two-way player where he can defend, and defend well and create more opportunities for himself. He’s a young guy, it’s only going to be his fourth season, so he can still get better.
“The one thing about Max is he’s very receptive to coaching, and we’re hard on him because we know he has the ability. He’s been great for us, and we’re looking for more from him this year.”
And if Ferdinand can continue to raise his game, his goal of bringing the championship back to Baltimore is one that will likely be within reach at the end of the season.