Game Day Preview #PENvNC
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Penn FC (9-10-8), continues The Homestretch on Sunday night when it hosts 10th place North Carolina FC (9-10-8).
The match marks the third straight match at home for Penn FC as both Penn FC and NCFC look to clinch one of the final playoff spots in the USL Eastern Conference.
Rush Soccer's First Team enters the match after securing a resurgent win against Indy Eleven on Wednesday night. The win moved the Blue and White into 11th place in the Eastern Conference and level in points with North Carolina FC at 35 points apiece.
Penn FC will lean on in-form forward Paulo Junior -- who netted three goals in the last four matches -- to bolster the Penn FC attack. Head Coach Raoul Voss will look to potentially bring Aaron Dennis and Lucky Mkosana back into the fold who returned from international duty before Wednesday's match.
The club will need to rely on quality play on both sides of the ball in order to keep the momentum from the win against Indy going. Goalkeeper Romu Peiser has been stout as the last line of the defense for Penn FC provides with two clean sheets in his last four starts.
NCFC enters the matchup coming off a 3-3 draw against Nashville SC, the match saw NCFC forward Daniel Rios collect his 16th goal of the season; good for second in the league behind only Cameron Lancaster of Louisville City FC. Rios and the North Carolina attack will be a challenge for Penn FC's defense, but the group is returning to full strength as both Ken Tribbett and Jake Bond return from suspension for yellow card accumulation.
With only seven matches left in the season and both teams on the fringe of making the USL Playoffs, Sunday's match is being looked at as basically a playoff game in mid-September.
"First of all, I think it's not really a battle for 10th place. I think when you really look at the games and the schedule of some of the teams, it's really a battle of who will make the playoffs," Head Coach Raoul Voss said when asked about the matchup. "I believe only one of the two of us will end up in playoffs between (North) Carolina and Penn FC. So that tells you the importance of this game; this is really it. One of the two of us will be in the top eight."
The match is scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m. on Sunday night. The match will also be faith night at FNB Field and all local churches and faith groups are encouraged to attend to receive special deals and promotions. Gates open at 4:30 p.m and the first 1,000 fans will receive a free Capelli Sport lanyard as part of the night's giveaway. Tickets for Sunday's tilt are available at pennfc.com/tickets. Fans unable to it to FNB Field can watch live on ESPN+.
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