After a perfect four-game run to open the North American Soccer League season, the Carolina RailHawks’ on-field struggles continued as the team was unable to find the back of the net in a 0-0 draw with last-place Miami FC.
Carolina coach Colin Clarke didn’t view the result as being just, crediting the stellar play of Miami FC keeper Mario Daniel Vega as being the main obstacle of the RailHawks’ effort to earn three points.
“I thought we deserved to win it. We created a lot opportunities and the keeper pulled off close-range, reaction saves,” Clarke said.
The RailHawks started off strong, owning 72.3 percent of possession through ten minutes and taking the match’s first five shots.
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North Carolina alumnus Billy Schuler, making his first start for the RailHawks, energized the offense with his pace.
“He did very well today, he’s been sharp in training,” Clarke said. “Getting 90 minutes under his belt is good.”
As the first half came to a close, Dario Cvitanich spearheaded Miami FC’s otherwise lackluster attack, but wasn’t able to get a shot on frame. Miami FC finished the match with zero shots on goal.
Alex Pérez had a bicycle kick off of a Tiyi Shipalane cross that lit up the crowd of 7,107 fans at WakeMed Soccer Park, but Vega’s heroics continued.
From there, both sides combined to commit seven fouls in the final 20 minutes of the match before the final whistle blew.
After scoring nine goals in the first four games of the season, the RailHawks have managed only a goal in its three straight winless games. Seven of those nine goals came from the midfield, an area that’s been lacking a spark as of late.
Clarke was still encouraged by the flashes the offense displayed Saturday night.
“Certainly not worried, we’re created chances and created opportunities … the goals will come,” Clarke said. “The amount of balls we’ve gotten across the front of goal and in their box is as many as we’ve had all season in a single game.”
▪ Miami FC manager Alessandro Nesta refused to talk to media in the postgame press conference.
▪ Reigning NASL player of the month Austin da Luz was left on the bench as striker Brian Shriver took his usual spot on the left wing. Clarke said it was coach’s decision and a way to get da Luz rest with U.S. Open Cup play looming.
▪ Carolina keeper Akira Fitzgerald returned to the starting lineup after a two-game absence.