North Carolina FC Begins U.S. Open Cup Journey against Richmond Kickers
CARY, N.C. - North Carolina FC has enjoyed a long history of success in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and is looking forward to the possibility of making another tournament run. On Wednesday, May 15 at 7 p.m., NCFC will host longtime rival Richmond Kickers at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in the second round of this year's competition.
The match is NCFC's first Open Cup action of the year, while Richmond defeated Virginia United in the first round to advance to this game. The club takes the competition seriously and its results prove that. NCFC owns an overall record of 21W-11L in the Open Cup. The club's lengthy history in the competition is highlighted by a semifinal appearance in 2007, three consecutive wins over the LA Galaxy from 2012-2014 and advancing to at least the fourth round of the tournament six times in the last seven seasons. In total, NCFC has gone on to face MLS clubs on 14 different occasions. This matchup will be the first against a team in the newly-formed USL League One.
NCFC players Marios Lomis and Austin da Luz have both scored multiple goals in the Open Cup, with Lomis totaling three tallies in last season's campaign that ended in the fourth round. Advancing past the first game has been a specialty for NCFC in the Open Cup. The club has only lost its first game in the tournament on one occasion.
The matchup with Richmond comes with additional exciting connections that only add fuel to the rivalry. NCFC has enjoyed the better of the series results against Richmond. In official competitions, NCFC is 4W-1L-0D against its neighbors. NCFC defeated Richmond in Open Cup contests in 2007 and 2009 and won two of three regular-season games in 2018. Richmond's roster features plenty of ties to the club with club icon, Akira Fitzgerald minding the net for the Kickers. Former RailHawk Daniel Jackson (2014-15) and NCFC Youth Academy product Nick Retzlaff also feature for the visitors. Current North Carolina Football Club President and General Manager Curt Johnston worked with Richmond early in his career, and the areas have enjoyed a soccer rivalry dating back to the early 90s to add another layer to the matchup.
Richmond enters the game undefeated in its last five matches. The Kickers took down Virginia United 6-2 a week ago in the Open Cup First Round before beating FC Tucson 2-0 in USL League One action over the weekend.
Players To Watch:
North Carolina FC - No. 9 Marios Lomis
NCFC's leading scorer has a knack for finding the back of the net in the Open Cup. While still early in his career, he's scored in every Open Cup game he's ever played in, including an equalizing strike against DC United last season.
Richmond Kickers - No. 1 Akira Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald totaled nearly 90 appearances for the Carolina RailHawks from 2011-16. Now later in his career, he's still a recognizable face and one of the most-capped players in club history. After two seasons in Tampa, Fitzgerald joined Richmond ahead of this season and has played every minute of every game so far.
North Carolina FC will resume its USL Championship campaign on Saturday, May 18 against Birmingham Legion FC (tickets). Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Coastal Credit Union Box Office at 919-459-8144.
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United Soccer League Championship Stories from May 14, 2019
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