NCFC Readies for Atlanta Test in Playoff Race
CARY, N.C. - North Carolina FC will aim to continue its run of form and the hunt for playoff qualification on Friday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. against Atlanta United 2 at Coolray Field.
NCFC is in the middle of closing out its regular season with five of the last seven matches away from home. The side has done well on the road as of late, earning at least a point from three of its last four road matches.
The positive form will be tested against an Atlanta United 2 side that has been unpredictable this season. With just 23 points, Atlanta sits in 14th place in the table, but the side has managed to take points from matchups against New York Red Bulls II, Indy Eleven, Louisville City FC, Tampa Bay Rowdies, and others. With MLS and Academy teams to pull from, Atlanta's roster features many unknowns.
In the only matchup of the season between the two teams, NCFC took down Atlanta 4-0 in Cary in May. The convincing win was highlighted by goals from strikers Donovan Ewolo, Daniel Rios and Marios Lomis.
NCFC will look to replicate that result, as well as the winning results that have pushed the side within reach of a playoff position. Entering the weekend, three points could boost NCFC as high as eighth place - the final playoff spot - in the USL table.
Last Time Out:
NCFC improved its chances of qualifying for the playoffs with an important 1-0 victory over Penn FC. In addition to the confidence gained from a shutout on the road, NCFC moved three points ahead of fellow playoff contenders Penn FC and Charlotte Independence with the win. Daniel Rios scored the only goal, bringing him to 17 goals on the season, good for second place in the USL.
Players To Watch:
NCFC - No. 4 Victor Igbekoyi
The midfielder made an instant impact for NCFC early on, notching an assist in his debut over the weekend against Penn FC. The midfielder spent the last 12 years of his career playing for various teams in the Azerbaijan Premier League, but recently made the move to NCFC. Look for Igbekoyi to be a force in the middle of the park for NCFC.
Atlanta United 2 - No. 26 Jon Gallagher
A 22-year-old forward, Gallagher has been a constant on the roster for Atlanta this season. The Dundalk, Ireland native has recorded six goals and five assists to lead his team in both categories. Look for the young talent to be an active threat in the box.
A busy week awaits North Carolina FC. The team will close out its three-game road trip with a midweek visit to Charleston Battery on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at MUSC Health Stadium at 7 p.m. NCFC will then return home to face regional rival the Richmond Kickers on Saturday, Sept. 29. Tickets are available online, over the phone at 919-459-8144 or in-person at the Coastal Credit Union Box Office.
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