Cary, NC – Last year, the residents of Cary watched the Carolina RailHawks play teams from around the country. And this weekend, they got to see the first game of the season with the team’s new name.
North Carolina FC, rebranded back in December 2016, went back to WakeMed Soccer Park for the first game of the Spring Season on Saturday, March 25, 2017. The team already played Atlas CF in a pre-season game earlier that same week.
The season opener was fast-paced against Miami FC, with a North Carolina goal in the opening minutes courtesy of Matt Fondy, who hit a strike from the middle of the box after a pass from Lance Laing. But Miami was just as quick to respond, with a goal from Kwadwo Poku not long after, scoring on Brian Sylvestre.
The rest of the first half saw more opportunities for North Carolina, with a narrowly blocked shot by Nazmi Albadawi and a series of free kicks that were unable to connect.
For the rest of the game, it was two immovable objects competing with Sylvestre and Miami goalkeeper Mario Daniel Vega. It was not for lack of trying, with Fondy and Albadawi both putting the pressure on Miami. But neither side could come out on top and the game ended with a 1-1 tie. Additionally, both teams made 11 goal attempts.
Fans came out to WakeMed Soccer Park to cheer on the home team, who are still bidding for an MLS franchise. And while the game did not end in a win for North Carolina, Head Coach Colin Clarke recognized it was a strong showing.
“Overall, a good first game of the season, but we would have loved to have all three points,” Clarke said. “We got the first goal of the season with a great crowd with a great atmosphere, so there were a lot of positives on the night.”
And players such as James Marcelin said an engaged home crowd was important for a season starter.
“The fans were amazing today. They always are,” Marcelin said. “We’re frustrated because we couldn’t win in front of the fans.”
This game saw the regular season debuts of Marcel Kandziora, Lance Laing and Christian Ibeagha for North Carolina FC. And Fondy’s goal fits the role he played last year when he led the team in scoring in the Fall Season with seven goals.
North Carolina FC’s next home game is against FC Edmonton on Saturday, April 15, 2017.
Story by staff reports. Photos courtesy of North Carolina FC.