The excitement behind North Carolina FC’s off-the-field moves, specifically the rumblings concerning its bid to join top-tier Major League Soccer, is at an all-time high in the club’s 11-year existence.
NCFC was able to bring that kind of excitement to the pitch Saturday night, thrashing last-place FC Edmonton 3-1 at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The win was NCFC’s first of the season and also the first nonexhibition victory since re-branding from the Carolina RailHawks name that the club had used since its inaugural year in 2007.
“I’m delighted for everybody involved,” North Carolina FC coach Colin Clarke said. “We knew the first one was going to be tough, but we thoroughly deserved it.”
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It didn’t take long for NCFC to make a statement as Lance Laing blasted a free kick into the top left corner from 30 yards out four minutes into the match.
Team captain Nazmi Albadawi doubled the lead in the 23rd minute, and Matt Fondy finished off a Steven Miller cross three minutes into the second half to make it 3-0.
“North Carolina won’t have an easier 45 minutes than it had this week,” FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller said. “Santa Claus and his reindeer seems to have gifted them a couple more goals this week.”
The game got chippy as the night went on, but that wasn’t unexpected to Clarke based on how his team was performing.
“It was always going to happen. (FC Edmonton) was getting frustrated with the way we were keeping the ball and moving it … there were a couple of tackles I thought were a little naughty,” Clarke said. “The one thing we talked about after the San Francisco game was that after the first half, that we didn’t shut that out … I thought we done a good job tonight late in the game of shutting it down and killing the clock and passing it and moving it and making them chase.”
The three goals scored by NCFC in the first 48 minutes surpassed its goal total from the year’s first two matches, a 1-1 draw and 3-1 loss.
The North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League won its first-ever game since relocating from western New York, downing the Washington Spirit 1-0 earlier in the day.
“It feels good because this club has been so good to us so far,” said McCall Zerboni, who scored the Courage’s first-ever goal. “We’ve been working so hard this preseason, and so to pop a goal in and get a win on our first trial here is good.”