Chattanooga Red Wolves 1 – 2 North Carolina FC
CHATTANOOGA, TN— Raheem Somersall scored his first professional goal, and Rafa Mentzingen tallied another goal against his former team as North Carolina FC held up under late pressure to beat the Chattanooga Red Wolves 2-1.
It’s been a while since these two teams faced off. The last time they met was over three months ago, back at WakeMed Soccer Park, when Mentzingen put away two goals against his former team on the way to a 3-0 win.
Since then, the two clubs have been on different trajectories, with the Red Wolves sitting at the bottom of the table and NCFC hanging out toward the top of the USL League One standings.
Chattanooga was looking to extend a four-game unbeaten streak at CHI Memorial Stadium. On the other side, North Carolina was fresh off of beating league-leading Northern Colorado Wednesday night and looked to move back into second place.
LET’S GET PHYSICAL
When these two teams get together, it often resembles what happens when you introduce cats by tossing them into the same room together. Lots of wrestling and physicality to establish territory and dominance. And probably a fair bit of hissing too.
Saturday night’s game wasn’t much different in that the physical play started almost off the opening whistle as both teams sought to test each other’s (and the referee’s) tolerance.
Seven yellow cards were handed out, with Raheem Somersall getting the first one in the 20th minute after getting tangled up with Chevone Marsh.
But it wasn’t just a wrestling match between the Dead Whales and the Red Wolves. There were plenty of end-to-end scoring opportunities throughout the game, with Chattanooga’s Carlos Avilez and NCFC’s Brooks Thompson (more on him in a bit) getting plenty of work in their respective nets.
Once again, Oalex Anderson Jr. demonstrated an incredible work rate, driving hard at Avilez and the Red Wolves defense. In the 21st minute, he stripped Marsh of the ball in the North Carolina defensive end and went coast to coast, forcing the defense to concede a corner.
North Carolina put five shots on target in the first half, and with Avila making some dangerous challenges, Chattanooga was fortunate to only find themselves down two goals at halftime.
A PRODUCTIVE NIGHT FOR SOMERSALL
Though he got himself on the scoresheet for a yellow card, Somersall would go on to have a productive first half.
He opened the scoring in the 34th minute with a canon from distance that beat Avilez to bag his first professional goal. We also need to give some credit to Nelson Flores Blanco, who, under pressure, kept the play alive, getting the ball out to Christian Lue Young, who dished it back to Somersall to make the heads-up play.
But Raheem’s night wasn’t done. North Carolina had some great build-up through midfield between Mikey Maldonado, Garrett McLaughlin, and Somersall, who spotted Mentzingen making the run into the box and lofted the ball into his path. With Nicolás Cardona draped over his back and Avilez rushing out to stop him, Mentzingen came up with an absolutely absurd chip over the Red Wolves goalkeeper to double North Carolina’s lead in the 39th minute.
UNBEATEN IN SIX
The Red Wolves would pull one back in the 83rd minute when Pedro Hernandez had jetpacks in his boots to get over the top of the defense and put away a header to make things interesting late in the game. But NCFC held on to grab three big road points.
With the win at Chattanooga, North Carolina FC is unbeaten in their last six games and moved up to second in the league table.
A NEW FACE IN NET FOR NCFC
With Nicholas Holliday and Tor Saunders still out with injuries, North Carolina acquired goalkeeper Brooks Thompson on loan from Philadelphia Union II earlier in the week. The 21-year-old was very impressive in his debut with the Dead Whales, with five saves on the night.
NEXT UP FOR NORTH CAROLINA FC
NCFC’s road trip continues with a visit to South Georgia next week to face Tormenta FC on August 5, then on to Richmond to take on their rivals to the north on Wednesday, August 9. You can catch those games on ESPN+. They return home on Saturday, August 12, when the Greenville Triumph comes to town. You can get tickets at northcarolinafc.com/tickets.
North Carolina FC (4-4-2): B. Thompson; C. Lue Young, D. Garcia, G. Fernandes, N. Flores Blanco; L. Pérez (D.J. Benton 79’), R. Somersall, M. Maldonado, R. Mentzingen (M. Flick 87’); G. McLaughlin (P. Popp 87’), O. Anderson Jr. (L. Arriaga 74’)
Chattanooga Red Wolves (4-4-2): C. Avilez; N. Cardona (M. Madrid 83’), R. Renteria, M. Williams, R. Kraft (M. Malongo 83’); W. Varela (P. Hernandez 57’), A. Paoli (R. Mensah 87’), Ualefi, A. Lombardi; O. Gomez (J. Filipe 57’), C. Marsh
North Carolina FC: 2
Chattanooga Red Wolves: 1
North Carolina FC: R. Somersall (C. Lue Young) 33’; R. Mentzingen (R. Somersall) 39’
Chattanooga Red Wolves: P. Hernandez (A. Lombardi) 83’
North Carolina FC: R. Somersall (YC) 20’; L. Pérez (YC) 40’; B. Thompson (YC) 43’; G. Fernandez (YC) 87’
Chattanooga Red Wolves: R. Kraft (YC) 45+3’; N. Cardona (YC) 52’; M. Williams (YC) 58’;