North Carolina FC Hopes to Keep Hot Streak Going at Louisville City FC on Saturday
Cary, N.C. - Riding its longest winning streak of the season, in-form North Carolina FC will attempt to win its fourth straight match when visiting Louisville City FC on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ET.
NCFC (13W-5L-7D, 46 points) goes into Saturday's match at Louisville Slugger Field having most recently defeated the Tampa Bay Rowdies 4-2 on Wednesday night for a win that moved the team into second place in the USL Championship Eastern Conference.
The first of NCFC's 13 wins came on March 9, the opening day of the season, as NCFC defeated Louisville City 4-1 in Dave Sarachan's debut as NCFC head coach. On Saturday, Sarachan's team will encounter a Louisville City side (11W-7L-6D, 39 points) that is up to seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Like NCFC, Louisville City carries a three-match winning streak into Saturday afternoon's tilt. Coached by John Hackworth, Louisville City is coming off a come-from-behind 2-1 victory against the Charleston Battery.
Louisville City has been good on its home ground, with 7W-3L-2D at Louisville Slugger Field in 2019. However, NCFC has been more than solid on the road and is 5W-4L-3D away from Cary.
Having scored nine goals in its past two matches, NCFC will hope for another good offensive performance against Louisville. Only New York Red Bulls II have scored more goals than NCFC (47) in the Eastern Conference, and Sarachan's team has used a well-balanced attack to trouble opposing defenses.
Along with Ottawa Fury FC, NCFC is one of only two teams in the league to have four players with six-plus goals in 2019. Midfielder Steven Miller leads the way with nine goals, two of which came on Wednesday, and also has a team-high six assists. Miller is one of only two players in the Eastern Conference with nine-plus goals and six-plus assists on the season. Midfielder Dre Fortune and forward Donovan Ewolo aren't far behind, with seven goals apiece.
Defensively, NCFC's 23 goals conceded are the fifth-fewest in the USL Championship, and goalkeeper Alex Tambakis' .764 save% is the second-best in the Eastern Conference.
For Louisville City, Danish midfielder Magnus Rasmussen (nine goals) and forward Luke Spencer (seven goals) have combined to score 16 of the team's 36 goals.
Last Time Out
A brace by midfielder Steven Miller and midfielder Dre Fortune's second straight game with both a goal and an assist powered NCFC to a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. With the win, NCFC swept the regular-season series with Tampa Bay and moved into second place in the USL Championship Eastern Conference.
Fortune, who scored twice in a 5-0 win against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC last weekend, opened the scoring in the 19th minute with his seventh goal of the year. Tampa Bay managed to equalize via a 32nd-minute goal by its captain, Sebastian Guenzatti, and the two teams went into halftime all square.
But for the second straight game, NCFC head coach Dave Sarachan's group dominated during the second half. NCFC's surge began in the 50th minute thanks to a set piece. Having received a corner kick from Fortune, Miller calmly slotted his shot into the right side of the net, giving NCFC a lead it would never let up. NCFC continued to wear down the Rowdies as the match progressed, and second-half substitute Manny Perez, a Garner native and N.C. State product, made a clear impact. Making a run on goal from the right flank, Perez cut inside and fired a shot that resulted in an own goal on Tampa Bay's Pape Diakité in the 76th minute.
Before it was all said and done, NCFC added a fourth in the 79th minute through Miller, the beneficiary of an excellent individual run into the 18-yard-box and pass by right back DJ Taylor, a Raleigh native. The Rowdies received a consolation in the 90th minute, as Juan Tejada scored late in the match.
Players to Watch
North Carolina FC - #31 Steven Miller
Miller has done a little bit of everything over the years for NCFC, playing up top at times, but also in the midfield and as a defender. But in his fifth season with the club, Miller has been an offensive powerhouse. After his brace on Wednesday, Miller has nine goals - more than twice his previous career high of four - this season to go along with a team-best six assists. Miller has also captained the side 17 times in 2019.
Louisville City FC - #7 Magnus Rasmussen
Rasmussen burst onto the scene in his first season with Louisville City by scoring eight times in 2015. After scoring only four goals between 2016-18, the 26-year-old midfielder has had a bounce back 2019 campaign, leading his team with nine goals. Rasmussen has scored in consecutive matches, and NCFC will need to keep an eye on him on Saturday.
NCFC will play another road game as it travels to face Loudoun United on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 7:30 p.m. ET. In its last game against Loudoun United, NCFC won 3-0 on July 17 behind two goals by Yamikani Chester. NCFC's next home match comes against Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 7:00 p.m. ET. For tickets and information please visit NorthCarolinaFC.com or call the Coastal Credit Union Box Office at 919-459-8144.
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