North Carolina FC Continues Southern Derby at Charlotte Independence this Saturday
CARY, N.C. - North Carolina FC will continue its rivalry with the Charlotte Independence on Saturday, April 20 at 7 p.m. in a Southern Derby contest at Sportsplex at Matthews. This is the first official meeting of the season between the two professional North Carolina teams.
North Carolina FC has enjoyed control of the series history as of late with wins in the last five contests. Since the series started, NCFC has outscored the Independence 20-5, while maintaining a 5W-1L record. Additionally, pro soccer teams from the Triangle region have met with Charlotte since the early 1990s, creating a long-standing rivalry. In the current Southern Derby Cup standings, NCFC is in second place with one point, while Charleston leads the table with four points from two matches.
It's been a tale of two cities as far as seasons go for each side in 2019. Despite a win in their last contest, Charlotte has struggled out of the gate. The Independence is 15th in the table with just one win from its first six games. On the other side of the table, North Carolina FC sits comfortably in eighth place with eight points - just three points back from fourth place with a game in hand.
Despite the difference in resumes, Charlotte remains a dangerous team. Longtime Charlotte star Jorge Herrera is still scoring goals, while former Carolina RailHawks players and brothers, Enzo and Alex Martinez, run a dangerous midfield unit. Additionally, Charlotte has secured exciting, talented players such as Brandon Miller, Andrew Gutman and Dominic Oduro in the offseason.
North Carolina FC will have to play a strong game to break down the Independence. The squad will look to return to form following a 2-1 loss in Atlanta last week. NCFC is led by returning striker Marios Lomis, who has already notched a team-high four goals.
Players To Watch:
North Carolina FC - No. 10 Ben Speas:
Speas is no stranger to big plays. Before joining North Carolina FC, the Stow, Ohio, native scored a long-distance stunner against NCFC with the Indy Eleven last season. The forward has been impactful early on, making 19 key passes and recording one assist. Look for Speas to control NCFC's midfield execution and involve himself in the attack.
Charlotte Independence - No. 15 Andrew Gutman:
Gutman has several ties to the North Carolina FC roster. He played college soccer with NCFC players Austin Panchot and Timmy Mehl and he's on loan from Celtic F.C., just like North Carolina FC player Manny Perez. Gutman has enjoyed a great start to the season with two goals and one assist.
North Carolina FC returns home to face Hartford Athletic on Saturday, April 27 at 7 p.m. at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. Tickets are available online or by calling the Coastal Credit Union Box Office 919-459-8144.
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