A Maryland judge Monday ruled in favor of seven youth soccer coaches who had sued Crystal Palace Baltimore for $20,000 in unpaid wages, another setback for a financially strapped club that had hoped to resume operations next year.
Crystal Palace Baltimore must reimburse the amount for breach of contract, plus court costs, Judge Steven D. Wyman, in the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore County, ruled. The group worked for Crystal Palace’s youth academy and claimed they were owed money for services rendered between 2008 and 2010.
“They wanted them to stay, they wanted them to work, and they wouldn’t pay them,” attorney Mauricio Barreiro said. “It’s probably not a good day for Crystal Palace.”
Crystal Palace officials answered the complaint when the lawsuit was filed but did not show up in court Monday.
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The plaintiffs were Matt Smith, former head coach of Johns Hopkins University and the Crystal Palace academy director; Keith Tabatznik, former head coach at Georgetown; Curtis Landy, a former Howard assistant; Washington College Coach Drew Hoffman; American University Coach Todd West; former Navy assistant Patrick Kennedy; and Phil Wellington, an ex-Georgetown goalkeeper. Smith and Tabatznik were seeking the largest amounts ($4,374.99 apiece).
Crystal Palace Baltimore spent three seasons in USL-2, the third tier of the American soccer system, before moving to the second-division North American Soccer League last year. After shuttling between five venues for home games witnessed by small crowds, the club announced in December that it would not field a team in 2011 and hoped to reorganize for 2012.
The organization also parted ways with its famed namesake, Crystal Palace, which is having its own financial problems. The London-based club funneled a small annual payment to the U.S. affiliate.
CP Baltimore is owned by Randall Medd, a real estate investor and options trader; his son, Pete Medd; and Jim Cherneski. Pete Medd and Cherneski were co-coaches.
During the season, players complained of late payments and inadequate meal per diems. The U.S. Soccer Federation helped keep the club afloat, sources said.