North Carolina FC Set for Home Showdown against Indy Eleven on Saturday
Cary, N.C. - Two of the top teams in the USL Championship Eastern Conference will do battle when North Carolina FC hosts Indy Eleven in a pivotal match on Saturday, Aug. 3, at 7:00 p.m. at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Fourth-place NCFC (10W-4L-7D, 37 points) and third-place Indy (11W-4L-4D, 37 points) are currently even on points in a heated race near the top of the standings, with Saturday's visitors holding the wins tiebreaker.
The last time the two teams met, NCFC walked away with a point following a 0-0 draw at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on May 4, as NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis earned his third clean sheet of the season with a five-save performance.
On Saturday, NCFC will hope to replicate the offensive outburst it had in a 4-2 win over Atlanta United 2 last weekend and once again give the home fans a lot to cheer about. In its last two home matches (both wins), NCFC has scored a combined seven goals, and head coach Dave Sarachan's team is unbeaten (6W-0L-4D) at their home ground in 2019.
Following a two-goal, one assist-performance against Atlanta, midfielder Steven Miller - the current USL Championship Player of the Week - leads NCFC in both goals (seven) and assists (five) on the season. As a team, NCFC ranks second in the Eastern Conference with 35 goals and has nine players with two-plus goals. A well-rounded squad, NCFC's defense has matched its offense. With Tambakis leading the charge in goal (five clean sheets, .787 save percentage), NCFC has conceded just 18 goals, the third-fewest in the Eastern Conference.
Indy, coached by former Carolina RailHawks head coach Martin Rennie, has likewise had a strong defense. The 14 goals given up by Indy are the fewest in the USL Championship, and goalkeepers Evan Newton and Jordan Farr have combined for 11 shutouts.
Indy gave up a pair of goals last weekend, however, as it fell 2-0 on the road to Nashville SC. On the season, Indy is 5W-4L-0D on the road.
Last Time Out
NCFC picked up its 10th victory of the season and remained unbeaten at home with a 4-2 victory over Atlanta United 2 last weekend.
A fast start and strong showings by midfielder Steven Miller and forward Donovan Ewolo helped NCFC pick up its sixth league victory at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in 2019.
Both Miller and Ewolo recorded two-goal, one assist-performances, with Miller earning USL Championship Player of the Week honors. NCFC scored three goals in the game's first 19 minutes, as Ewolo opened up the scoring in the seventh minute on a strike named a nominee for USL Championship Goal of the Week.
Miller scored his first of the night in the 15th minute and secured a brace just four minutes later in the 19th minute on a goal set up by Ewolo. After Atlanta United 2 made it a one-goal game with a pair of tallies, Miller returned the favor and assisted on Ewolo's second score of the night, this one coming in the 45th minute right before halftime.
From that point on, NCFC maintained its multi-goal advantage and secured the win.
Players to Watch
North Carolina FC - #10 Ben Speas
No one is more familiar with Saturday's visitors than Speas, who is on loan this season from Indy Eleven. In his first season with NCFC, the UNC product has impressed, scoring two goals and recording four assists. Oftentimes, a successful offensive sequence for NCFC begins with Speas making a key pass, and his 50 chances created are the sixth-most in the league. Last time out, Speas recorded an assist against Atlanta United 2, and another productive performance could be difference-making on Saturday.
Indy Eleven- #23 Tyler Pasher
Playing in the midfield, Pasher has found a home in Indy after previously playing for a number of clubs earlier in his career, including fellow USL Championship sides Swope Park Rangers and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. Now in his second year with Indy, the 25-year-old Canadian leads the team in goals with eight. Impressively, Pasher has been efficient in the attack, converting on over half of his 15 shots on target.
NCFC will hit the road to take on Memphis 901 FC on Saturday, Aug. 10, at 8:30 p.m. ET at AutoZone Park. NCFC drew 1-1 at home against Memphis on April 13 in the first-ever meeting between the two clubs. NCFC returns home to host Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday, Aug. 17, at 7:00 p.m. For tickets and information please visit NorthCarolinaFC.com or call the Coastal Credit Union Box Office at 919-459-8144.
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