Sometimes, the best way to recover from a rough game is to get right back on the pitch. After a weekend in Omaha they’d largely prefer to forget, North Carolina FC traveled to Madison, WI to take on Forward Madison FC in a Wednesday night tilt.
Their last meeting ended with Christian Lue Young netting the game-winner at the death as NCFC pulled out a thrilling 2-1 win. So they came into Wednesday’s match knowing that this is a team they can beat.
However, they had to face the Flamingoes without Nelson Flores Blanco and Britton Fischer, both of whom were serving their red card suspensions from the Union Omaha match on Saturday. They did have some veteran support, though, with goalkeeper Will Pulisic back in the starting eleven after missing games due to illness.
NCFC showed some spirit in the opening moments of the game with Garrett McLaughlin setting himself up for a scoring chance, but Forward Madison’s Raiko Arozarena was equal to the North Carolina forward’s challenge.
The Flamingoes and Dead Whales traded opportunities at both ends of the field through the early minutes of the first half. NCFC defender and team captain Jordan Skelton was on point with some sharp defensive play to give Pulisic an easier night in his first game back.
North Carolina’s defense was mainly tested by Madison racking up eight corner kicks in the first half hour, with four of them between the 22nd and 29th minutes.
In the 37th minute, Showkat Tahir won a free kick after being fouled by Madison captain Mitch Osmond, who earned a yellow card on the play. Tahir’s free kick looped toward the far post with Arozarena coming off his line to punch the ball away. After a brief melee in the box, the ball came out to Luis Arriaga, but his right footed rocket sailed into the stands.
NCFC finished out a competitive first half with some pressure on the Flamingoes but didn’t quite find their scoring finish and the sides went into the locker rooms deadlocked at 0-0.
There was a scary moment early in the second half when Max Flick and Raheem Somersall collided at midfield. Somersall appeared to take the worst of the contact and needed attention from Head Athletic Trainer Shawn Wilson before continuing in the game.
One carryover from their previous meeting in Cary was heavy physical play, with Madison targeting much of their aggression once again on Jaden Servania. Mikey Maldonado, who was ejected from their previous match, shoved Servania without even challenging for the ball, earning himself a yellow card.
Maldonado dumped Servania again in the 70th minute which resulted in a scuffle between players on both teams. When the dust settled, Alann Torres and Gustavo Fernandes each were shown a yellow card. North Carolina was unsuccessful in converting the free kick.
It was a grinding second half that saw few breakthroughs on goal for either team but NCFC nearly grabbed the game winner in the 88th minute. A long corner kick from Tahir found Skelton at the far side of the box. Skelton’s header stopped by the Madison defense but the ball pinged around the six-yard box before Arozarena smothered it to keep his clean sheet.
And at the final whistle (after eight minutes of stoppage), North Carolina FC had taken the season series against Forward Madison FC with a 1-0-1 record.
- It’s always good to get a point on the road, especially in a physical game like this was.
- Will Pulisic wasn’t called on much but made the plays he had to earn a clean sheet in his first game back.
- This was a much more disciplined performance from NCFC with plenty to build on for their next game Saturday night.
Next up, North Carolina FC plays host to FC Tucson on Saturday, August 27 at 7 p.m. You can get tickets at northcarolinafc.com/tickets.
North Carolina FC: W. Pulisic; C. Lue Young, J. Skelton, G. Fernandes, M. Flick; R. Somersall (N. Martinez 86’), L. Arriaga, S. Tahir (N. Molina 90+1’), J. Servania; G. McLaughlin, S. Adams (O. Anderson 70’)
Forward Madison FC: R. Arozarena; M. Osmond, E. Leonard, C. Rad; D. Gebhard (J. Sukow 76’); A. Torres (R. Smith 76’), A. Wheeler-Omiunu, M. Maldonado (M. Temguia 90’), M. Cassini; J. Streng, A. Mbacke Thiam (N. Bartman 60’)
North Carolina FC: 0
Forward Madison FC: 0
North Carolina FC: none
Forward Madison FC: none
North Carolina FC: M. Flick (YC 68’’); G. Fernandes (YC) 73’; O. Anderson (YC) 81’
Forward Madison FC: M. Osmond (YC) 36’; M. Maldonado (YC) 57’; A. Torres (YC) 73’; J. Streng (YC) 90+2’