North Carolina FC Travels to Face New York City FC in Open Cup
CARY, N.C. - Currently on a six-match unbeaten run across all competitions, North Carolina FC will continue its journey in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup when it faces New York City FC of Major League Soccer in the fourth round Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Queens, N.Y., at Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John's University.
Head coach Dave Sarachan's team is in sixth place in the USL Championship Eastern Conference, and most recently defeated the league-leading and previously undefeated Tampa Bay Rowdies 3-1 on Saturday.
NCFC is 23-11 all-time in the Open Cup and will be seeking its seventh win against an MLS side when facing NYCFC Wednesday. To reach this point, NCFC defeated the Richmond Kickers 4-1 in the second round on May 15, and followed that victory up with a 1-0 triumph against the Florida Soccer Soldiers in the third round on May 29.
In its inaugural season, NCFC defeated the Chicago Fire and ultimately reached the semifinals of the 2007 Open Cup before falling to the New England Revolution, the eventual champions. That cup run served as the beginning of NCFC's rich Open Cup history, which includes two wins against Chivas USA and three against the LA Galaxy.
Wednesday's match will be NYCFC's first in this year's competition. NYCFC is seeking its first-ever Open Cup win, having lost in the fourth round each year since 2015.
NYCFC is coached by Domènec Torrent, who began his current role in June 2018 after previously serving as a member of Pep Guardiola's staff at Manchester City, Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona.
NYCFC (5W-1L-8D, 23 points) sits in sixth place in MLS' Eastern Conference and most recently defeated FC Cincinnati 5-2 last Thursday. NYCFC's leading goalscorer is Héber Araújo dos Santos, who has six goals and is coming off a brace.
Last Time Out
NCFC wrapped up a three-game USL Championship road trip in grand fashion, winning 3-1 at the league-leading Tampa Bay Rowdies Saturday night. The loss was Tampa Bay's first of the season.
Entering the game, the Rowdies had recorded four consecutive shutouts, last conceding on April 27. That streak came to an end thanks to an offensive outburst from NCFC, highlighted by a two-goal performance by midfielder Dre Fortune, a Raleigh native and former NCFC Youth standout. Fortune opened the scoring in the 19th minute with his first league goal of the season, as he was assisted by Nazmi Albadawi, who was playing in his second game with NCFC since rejoining the club he played for from 2014-17.
NCFC went ahead 2-0 in the 48th minute as Fortune struck again, and a 78th-minute goal from midfielder Steven Miller made it 3-1, as NCFC responded well to a goal by Tampa Bay's Zach Steinberger in the 54th minute. NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis made a season-high six saves in the win.
Players to Watch
North Carolina FC - #18 Robert Kristo
In his first season with the club, Robert Kristo has made the most of his opportunities, notching four goals across USL Championship and Open Cup play. The 6'4" target man scored in NCFC's season-opening win against Louisville City FC in March and added a second league game in a victory over Hartford Athletic on April 27. Against the Richmond Kickers in the second round of the Open Cup on May 15, Kristo recorded a brace. If the 26-year-old can use his size and strength to his advantage, he could cause trouble for the NYCFC defense.
New York City FC- #11 Valentín Castellanos
Despite starting only six of the 11 matches he's appeared in this season, Valentín Castellanos has proven himself as an effective attacking option for NYCFC. The 20-year-old Argentinian came to the club on loan in 2018 from Uruguayan club Torque, but joined NYCFC permanently ahead of the current season. Castellanos has three goals and two assists, and the NCFC defense will definitely have to keep tabs on the forward.
NCFC returns home on Saturday to face Swope Park Rangers in the first match of the Pride Night doubleheader, presented by Credit Suisse, at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park at 5 p.m. The game will be followed by a match between the NC Courage and Portland Thorns scheduled for 7:45 p.m.
NCFC is unbeaten at home in league play (2W-0L-3D) and will look to keep that streak intact against a Rangers team that is 0W-4L-1D on the road.
For tickets and information please visit NorthCarolinaFC.com or call the Coastal Credit Union Box Office at 919-459-8144.
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