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 North Carolina FC

Week 5 Preview: NCFC Visit Detroit City FC

April 5, 2024 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
North Carolina FC News Release

HAMTRAMCK, Mich. - North Carolina FC are back on the road for Week 5 of the 2024 USL Championship season, heading up to the Wolverine State to take on undefeated Detroit City FC on Saturday, April 6, at 2 p.m. ET. The match will stream live on ESPN+.

Saturday will mark the first-ever meeting between the two teams, with Detroit moving from the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) to the USL Championship ahead of the 2022 season. This will be NCFC's first contest against any Michigan-based team.

Michigan will become the 37th American state or territory or Canadian province North Carolina FC have faced a team from in club history, dating back to 2007. NCFC will also face teams from Nevada, New Mexico, and Rhode Island for the first time later this season.

North Carolina FC picked up their first win of the season last week, knocking off previously undefeated Hartford Athletic, 2-1, behind goals from Louis Perez and Oalex Anderson. The pair, along with Rodrigo Da Costa, put together a strong group performance as the spearhead of an NCFC attack that created eight shots inside the box.

Perez and Da Costa each created two chances, including Da Costa's assist on Anderson's goal, while Anderson drew the penalty leading to Perez's spot kick goal. Da Costa had a match-best 18 duels, winning seven, while completing a match-best four dribbles and 90.9% of his passes in the final third.

Ezra Armstrong and Rafa Mentzingen put together stout defensive performances against Hartford's speedy wingers. Justin Malou continued his solid play at center back, winning three tackles and a team-high eight duels.

Paco Craig was the anchor at the heart of the defense with a 91.9% passing accuracy, while Collin Martin and Mikey Maldonado had passing accuracies of 90.6% and 89.7%, respectively, to hold down the center of the park.

Martin has been the spark in the North Carolina FC press and has won possession in the final third a league-leading seven times in four matches.

Scouting Detroit

Detroit City FC sit second in the Eastern Conference with a perfect record through four weeks of the 2024 USL Championship season. They only trail high-flying Louisville City FC on goal differential.

Le Rouge started the year with a win over Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC before taking down Loudoun United FC, the only common opponent with NCFC to date. Detroit City capped off Week 4 with a come-from-behind road win over Indy Eleven.

Reigning USL Championship Player of the Week Maxi Rodriguez led the way in the comeback with a goal and an assist. The former Charlotte 49er has been the catalyst for Detroit so far this season. His two goals and two assists are both team highs.

Ali Coote got the other goal in that comeback win over Indy and, while the winger doesn't have the goal contributions to match his No. 10 counterpart, the Scot is equally as dangerous. Coote joined Detroit from Dublin-based club Bohemians this offseason and has created eight chances, won 14 duels and fired off a team-high 12 crosses.

Coote and Canadian wing back Brett Levis have formed a solid combination down the left flank early in the season. North Carolina FC's wingers proved up to the task against Hartford Athletic, this week brings another test and should be a matchup to watch.

The Detroit defense brings a wealth of experience to the field. Goalkeeper Nathan Steinwascher - who won a pair of Golden Glove awards with Le Rouge in NISA - is in his ninth season with the club. He and center backs Stephen Carroll and Devon Amoo-Mensah have started all three matches in 2024 and have nearly 16,000 combined minutes of USL Championship experience.

North Carolina FC's offense took a strong step forward in the win over Hartford, but will be put to the test by a stingy Detroit defense.

Next Up

North Carolina FC will return to WakeMed Soccer Park on Sunday, April 14, for a 5 p.m. ET kickoff against Birmingham Legion FC. The game will be the team's Rivals Night in celebration of all the rivalries in the Triangle. The night includes $5 beer, friendly rivalry competitions throughout the night, and bam-bam sticks giveaways for all fans, while supplies last.

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