Cary, NC – In a long-awaited return to their home field, North Carolina FC played an exciting Summer game and came out on top with a 3-1 victory.
Strong Victory at Home
North Carolina FC took on Toronto FC 2 at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday, July 21, 2018. Toronto has not won any games this season so most fans likely expected a victory for the home team. However, things started off in the visitors’ favor in the 20th minute when Toronto’s Shaan Hundal got a pass from Kyle Bjornethun and hit a header into the NCFC net.
Now the game was shaking up and NCFC responded in kind. Eight minutes after Toronto took the lead, Austin da Luz cut through the Toronto defenses to get in range and got a pass from Kyle Bekker. da Luz got a header, possibly a response to Hundal’s move, and tied the game up 1-1.
“I think a lot of people came here tonight expecting to see us roll them (Toronto FC 2) over, but they’re a team that – if you watch them – are good,” said NCFC Head Coach Colin Clarke. “They’ve been in every game, creating chances, are good in possession. We knew we were going to have to earn it.”
NCFC had a chance to “earn it” in the 55th minute as Daniel Rios got an opening on the penalty line and kicked a high corner ball. Toronto’s goalkeeper Borja Angoitia leapt to block the ball but he was milliseconds too slow and the score jumped to 2-1.
Then, the home team cemented their lead six minutes later, thanks again to Rios. The ball was about to roll over the end line near Toronto’s goal but Rios darted forward and not only kept the ball on the right side but passed it to Bekker, who kicked it in for a 3-1 lead, which is how the match ended.
NCFC has two big home games in the coming weeks as they play the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and the Charleston Battery, both of whom are in the league’s top three.
“Anytime you’re playing at home you want to get three points. Just looking at what we did in the first half of the season, we know we can do more,” Bekker said, talking about both this game against Toronto and the upcoming home games. “That’s the standard we need to set. Anytime we’re playing at home we need to push for the three points.”
NCFC takes on Pittsburgh at home on Saturday, July 28, 2018 at 7 PM.
Story by staff reports. Photos by Rob Kinnan.