North Carolina FC Readies for Home Test against Birmingham Legion FC
CARY, N.C. - North Carolina FC resumes its USL Championship home schedule on Saturday, May 18 at 7 p.m. against expansion side Birmingham Legion FC at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. This is the first-ever meeting between the two teams. The sides are separated by four points, and NCFC enters the meeting at seventh place in the table, while Birmingham is 12th in the Eastern Conference.
NCFC has fared well to start the season and it's 4W-2L-3D league record has the side firmly in the playoff hunt. A win could move NCFC as high as third place in the Eastern Conference Standings.
In order to get past Birmingham, the side will need to keep its scoring form. The good news is, NCFC has scored in bunches at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park so far. In home league matches this season, NCFC is averaging 2.5 goals per game, compared to just 1.2 goals per game on the road. Marios Lomis has scored six times already and is always a threat to find the back of the net. Steven Miller has also scored twice in the last three league matches and is NCFC's most in-form attacker.
While new to the league, Birmingham will be a challenge. The side earned early road victories over Louisville City FC and Saint Louis FC. Birmingham is coming off a 4-1 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup win over West Chester United SC, but is winless in its last three league matches.
The visitor's roster is highlighted by Columbus Crew SC loanee J.J. Williams and USL Championship journeyman Chandler Hoffman, both have scored two goals this season. Fans might also recognize goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg, who has played against NCFC the last few years with Puerto Rico FC and Richmond Kickers.
Last Time Out:
A 4-1 U.S. Open Cup win over the Richmond Kickers on Wednesday, May 15, resumed NCFC's scoring form. Robert Kristo netted a brace along with goals from Dre Fortune and Yamikani Chester. In total, there were eight changes to the team's lineup as NCFC flexed its depth.
Players To Watch:
North Carolina FC - No. 31 Steven Miller
Miller has two goals in the last three league games for NCFC. He'll certainly be a favorite to extend that scoring form against Birmingham. The midfielder has also taken up captain duties while Austin da Luz is recovering from a knock. Look for Miller to make an impact from the wings.
Birmingham Legion FC - No. 5 Mikey Lopez
Lopez may be a familiar name to some in the area, as he spent two season with UNC Chapel Hill, including the 2011 NCAA National Championship season. Lopez is a versatile midfielder and has started in all but two league contests for Birmingham so far.
North Carolina FC hits the road for an away match at New York Red Bulls II on Friday, May 24 at 7 p.m. The team returns home for a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match on Wednesday, May 29 at 7 p.m. against the Florida Soccer Soldiers. The match will be played on Field 2 at WakeMed Soccer Park. Tickets are available online or can be purchased over the phone at 919-459-8144.
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