North Carolina FC Travels to Face Saint Louis FC
CARY, N.C. - North Carolina FC will attempt to continue its good run of form when it travels to face Saint Louis FC on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET at WWT Soccer Park in Fenton, Mo.
NCFC most recently defeated Swope Park Rangers 2-0, and is currently in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a 7W-2L-5D record (26 points). Head coach Dave Sarachan's group has earned at least a point in five straight matches, three of which have been wins.
A well-balanced group offensively, six different players have scored multiple times for NCFC this season, including 22-year-old midfielder and former NCFC Youth Academy standout Dre Fortune, who's notched three goals in his last two games. Defensively, NCFC has conceded the third-fewest goals in the league (11), and goalkeeper Alex Tambakis holds the second-highest save percentage in the Eastern Conference (.795).
Saturday's match will be NCFC's ninth on the road, and the team's away form has been among the best in the league. Only Nashville SC (18) and Indy Eleven (15) have accumulated more points away from home than NCFC (14). Of NCFC's four road wins, two have come against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference (Tampa Bay Rowdies and New York Red Bulls II).
Saint Louis FC enters this weekend's tilt having lost two consecutive league games, last winning a USL Championship match on April 27. Yet, head coach Anthony Pulis' group still finds itself in a playoff position, currently holding ninth place in the Eastern Conference with a 5W-3L-4D record (19 points). Saint Louis FC fell 3-1 at Bethlehem Steel last weekend, but continued its run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, earning a spot in the quarterfinals with a 1-0 win over FC Cincinnati.
Like NCFC, Saint Louis FC has allowed only 11 goals this season, while its attack has produced 1.17 goals per game. Forward Russell Cicerone and defender Sam Fink lead the team with three goals apiece.
Last Time Out
NCFC returned to Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park for its first home league match in one month and defeated Swope Park Rangers 2-0 last Saturday. Looking to get off to a fast start against an opponent that had yet to record a win on the road, NCFC did just that with two goals within the opening 13 minutes.
Forward Yamikani Chester opened the scoring in just the sixth minute with his second goal of the season, which was assisted by forward Robert Kristo. Just seven minutes later, Fortune doubled the advantage with a strike from the edge of the area in the 13th minute, his third goal in a two-game span. Goalkeeper Darrin MacLeod made his first home start in league action for NCFC, and the Canadian recorded a clean sheet against his former team as NCFC remained unbeaten at home.
Players to Watch
North Carolina FC - #10 Ben Speas
One of just three NCFC players to start each game of the USL Championship campaign, Speas has been a steady presence in the midfield in his first season with the club, consistently creating opportunities for both himself and his teammates. Currently on loan from Indy Eleven, Speas is tied for the team lead with three assists, and he also has a goal to his name. The 28-year-old midfielder ranks fourth in the Eastern Conference with 36 chances created, and a good showing from Speas could go a long way in helping NCFC break down a Saint Louis FC defense that has given up just 11 goals all season.
Saint Louis FC - #4 Sam Fink
No player has scored a bigger goal this season for Saint Louis FC than Fink, who serves as club captain. The Wake Forest University product notched the game-winner Wednesday night against FC Cincinnati in the fifth round of the Open Cup, heading home a corner kick in the 93rd minute. Despite playing as a center back, Fink is Saint Louis FC's joint leading scorer, and he plays a key role in one of the league's toughest defenses.
NCFC returns home for a match against Nashville SC on Saturday, June 29, at 7 p.m. NCFC is undefeated at home this season, holding a 3W-0L-3D record.
For tickets and information please visit NorthCarolinaFC.com or call the Coastal Credit Union Box Office at 919-459-8144.
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