The Carolina RailHawks’ snakebit spring season hit a new low Saturday when a two-goal lead against the league-leading New York Cosmos evaporated in added time for a 2-2 tie.
The Cosmos (4-0-3 ) scored in the first of five minutes of added time on a RailHawk’ own goal and again with seconds left to steal a road point.
“We weren’t good enough in closing the game up,” RailHawks coach Colin Clarke said. “It became a bit of a panic mode.”
Turning point: New arrival Dzenen Catic, a forward on loan from MLS’ Philadelphia Union, had a one-on-one with New York goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer in the 87th minute but Maurer got a piece of his shot and it skipped wide. A missed chance to go up 3-0 turned out to be massive.
“I didn’t think our subs were good enough tonight,” Clarke said.
They said it: “You want to play to the end of the whistle, but for some reason or another they got seven minutes but it was supposed to be five,” Carolina midfielder Tiyi Shipalane said.
Three who mattered
Tiyi Shipalane, Carolina: Shipalane was his usual self. He torched two defenders in the game’s first few minutes and assisted on an early seventh-minute goal to Neil Hlavaty. In the 76th minute, he sidestepped two defenders before curling in his unassisted goal.
Hunter Gilstrap, Carolina: The goalkeeper had great timing throughout to keep a clean sheet for the first 90 minutes. The Cosmos’ two added-time scores came on a Carolina own goal as a cross took a deflection off Futty Danso and a hammered-home rebound after a poorly cleared ball settled just outside the 18-yard-box.
Futty Danso, Carolina: In his first start at home, the healthy-at-long-last centerback turned away several Cosmos threats. He did record the own goal, which came after a ricochet.
▪ The Cosmos played an extremely high line. For most of the first half they had nine or 10 players across midfield to help pepper the goal.
▪ Carolina is trying to keep the positives in perspective. Danso, Wells Thompson, Nacho Novo and Nazmi Albadawi have struggled with injuries but all made a difference.
“I was delighted to get certain players back on the field,” Clarke said.
▪ Clarke subbed out Novo and Shipalane late as both were beginning to reach for their hamstrings.
“I can’t afford those players to break down,” Clarke said. “I would have loved to keep that group together the whole way through. I thought they were good, very organized. I wanted them to see it out.”
▪ The 7,217 on hand for the match, many to see the Cosmos’ star midfielder Raul, made for the biggest home crowd this season.