Durham News: Sports

Tobacco Road heads into life as a professional franchise

Durham’s newest professional soccer franchise met the team it wants to become last Friday night.

The Tobacco Road Futbol Club took on first-place Myrtle Beach at Durham County Stadium. The newcomers gave it their all, but fell to the undefeated Mutiny 3-0.

It was the FC’s second setback this year against Myrtle Beach after opening its inaugural season against the Mutiny on May 13. That match ended in a 2-2 tie.

“We just didn’t finish opportunities. We had at least three scoring goal opportunities in the first half. We didn’t capitalize, and we have no one to blame but ourselves,” said Tobacco Road coach Cedric Burke, a Jordan alumnus.

Myrtle Beach (4-0-1) entered Friday night’s match undefeated in the National Premier Soccer League’s South Atlantic Conference; the Mutiny’s only loss so far this year was in a non-league game, a 3-2 decision in double overtime to the Charlotte Eagles of the nation’s Premier Development League.

The Mutiny, the South Atlantic’s top-scoring team (14 goals) notched the only goal they would need Friday at the 8:40 mark in the first period. The FC’s most agonizing miss came just as the half was ending. A corner kick bounced off a player and rolled toward the net, but was stopped mere inches from crossing the goal.

The Mutiny scored again just 1:40 into the second period to take a more comfortable 2-0 lead.

“We let it get away from us in the second period, but we’re a young team and we’ll get better,” Burke said. “Every day has been a learning experience.”

Tobacco Road (1-2-3) was coming off a high note after winning its first match as a professional club against a Triangle neighbor, the Carolina Railhawks, 2-1 in Cary.

After a 2-1 loss to the Georgia Revolution in its second match, Tobacco Road finished with back-to-back 1-1 ties against the Atlanta Silverbacks and the FC Carolina Discoveries. Friday was their third home match of the season, and a nice crowd was on hand.

Many were in attendance to enjoy the FC’s local flavor, as 11 of the 18-player roster are from North Carolina, including Jordan graduate Sonny Mukungu.

“The fact that I can play for my hometown is great. I play every single game for my family and for the people of Durham itself,” said Mukungu, a starter on the team. “It means the world to me.”

Tobacco Road was a successful amateur program for many years in the Triangle Adult Soccer League, where it won 15 of the 21 semi-annual first-division league championships since 2005. The FC also took the North Carolina Amateur Championship in 2013.

Mukungu said being the new kids on the block doesn’t mean they are taking a backseat.

“Guys are gelling, from the first practice, people compete,” he said. “We have a fighting spirit, and we work hard every day. We play for each other like we’re family.”

Now that there are two professional soccer teams in the Triangle, can fans expect a blooming rivalry to emerge?

“They are absolutely our rival,” Burke said. “But I’m more interested in getting them (Myrtle Beach) back. We’ll see the Railhawks come July 1, and they’ll come to play. We got them last week, so they are most certainly our local rival.”

The FC goes on a road trip for two rematches: against the Revolution on June 16, and the Silverbacks on June 18. The team returns home for its two final games on June 24 and July 1, starting at 7 p.m. both nights.

Visit tobaccoroadfc.com for more information.

Local players on Tobacco Road’s roster

Terry DeShazo, Durham

Ibrahima Diouf, Raleigh

Brendan Duncan, Raleigh

Ramon Gallardo, Knightdale

Jason McCartney, Raleigh

Doug Powell, Fuquay Varina

Joaquin del Rosario, Durham

Evan De Ycaza, Cary

Local players on

Tobacco Road’s roster

Doug Powell, Fuquay Varina

Brendan Duncan, Raleigh

Terry DeShazo, Durham

Joaquin del Rosario, Durham

Ibrahima Diouf, Raleigh

Evan De Ycaza, Cary

Ramon Gallardo, Knightdale

Jason McCartney, Raleigh

Ryan Thompson, Cary

Zach Olofson, Raleigh

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