The Carolina RailHawks’ 23-game home unbeaten streak came to an end Wednesday night as MLS club FC Dallas defeated Carolina 5-2 in the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Although Carolina jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, FC Dallas’ high-powered offense proved to be too much for the RailHawks.
“It was very tough. Obviously (forward Fabian) Castillo was a handful all night and (forward Andres) Escobar,” RailHawks coach Colin Clarke said. “They’re very good, and that’s why they play at the next level.”
The RailHawks came out aggressive on offense, and in the ninth minute, forward Zack Schilawski, with an assist from midfielder Enzo Martinez, was able to get his shot past FC Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez.
However, Carolina’s early lead was short-lived as FC Dallas answered back by outscoring the RailHawks 3-1 in the rest of the first half.
FC Dallas forward Blas Perez, who recorded a hat trick, equalized with his first goal in the 23rd minute.
Just 11 minutes later, Perez struck again, this time from point-blank range after a deflection off of RailHawks defender Austen King.
But FC Dallas’ 2-1 advantage didn’t last for long.
Martinez tied things up with a score on a penalty kick following a hand ball penalty against FC Dallas’ Moises Hernandez.
After a turnover by Carolina midfielder Cesar Elizondo, FC Dallas made the RailHawks pay with its dangerous counterattack when Castillo dribbled around RailHawks goalkeeper Scott Goodwin before scoring in the 44th minute.
The second half featured far less action than the first, but the RailHawks had a chance to equalize the score in the 60th minute when midfielder Tiyi Shipalane sent in a cross right in front of the goal which Elizondo misplayed.
A packed in and compact FC Dallas defense made it tough for the RailHawks to get many good looks at the goal throughout the second half.
“It was really tough. I think that we actually did a great job of being patient,” Martinez said. “There were times where we kept the ball and just tried to find gaps. We just have to be a little bit better prepared for the situation.”
FC Dallas ended all hopes of a RailHawks comeback in the 89th minute when Mauro Diaz’s score put Carolina down by two goals.
Perez tacked on one more late goal to end the scoring.
Now eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup, the RailHawks will focus solely on the NASL fall season which begins on Saturday as Carolina hosts the Indy Eleven.
“We need to start another run, and that starts on Saturday. We need to get off to a positive start with what we’re all about which is our NASL season,” Clarke said.