Cary, North Carolina – WakeMed Soccer Park – Sahlen’s Stadium

A beautiful night for soccer turned into a solid home win by NCFC on Saturday night. While they did not necessarily dominate possession, they played a compact and well organized defense that stemmed from fantastic play down the right side the whole night by Miller.

NCFC came out in what appeared to be a defensive formation of 5-4-1 (5 in defense, 4 in the midfield, one up top) with Fondy being the spearhead in the attack. The main problem with the 5-4-1 formation is that many times it can be a signal that the team will sit back and try to counter attack instead of using their players for creative attacking moves. Luckily for the home fans though, NCFC came out on the front foot and did not let up all game.

The match started in a quick drive down the field by NCFC leading to a foul about 22 yards outside the box in the right-center of the field for. The foul came on a pass intended for Fondy and he shielded the ball well, drawing the free kick.

Lance Laing stepped up for the free kick and put an absolute screamer into the upper 90s on the left side of the goal for the first score of the night. He promptly ran to coach Colin Clarke and gave him a huge hug.

Not long after that, NCFC were playing a great bit of defense and won the ball back about 15 yards inside their own half when Nazmi Albadawi picked the ball up, dribbled the length of the field, gave the defender a little shimmy to the left to free up a bit of space, and hit the ball hard and low into the near post for the second goal of the night. It was a very smart run and goal to take the space that the defense was giving him, all while keeping his head up and ready to pass when the defense stepped (which they never did).

The third NCFC goal came from a nice run down the right side of the field by Miller ending in a firm, low cross to the near post. It didn’t look like anyone was a clear cut winner on pace to get to the ball first, but some great striker play by Fondy meant he got his boot on the cross and the ball was in the back of the net before the keeper could react.

The only goal Edmonton scored was a bit fortunate on their part in the fact that a decent shot hit off the post, into an NCFC defender, and was finished by an attacking player being in the right place at the right time.

This game was a good example of what NCFC can do when they are organized on defense and highly efficient on the attack, and if the rest of the season goes like this, we have a lot to look forward to here in the Triangle region of North Carolina.

Colin Bish (4/18/2017)

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