CARY, N.C. (May 15, 2019) – North Carolina FC roared to a 4-1 win over rival Richmond Kickers in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night. NCFC continued its recent domination of the series, winning its third-straight match against Richmond.
The teams have met three times in Open Cup history (2007, 2009, 2019), and NCFC has come away with all three wins. NCFC moves to 22W-11L in Open Cup history with a goal differential of +37.
“I had some words with the boys at halftime and we made some adjustments,” said NCFC Head Coach Dave Sarachan. “I thought our second half was much better than the first. We made it hard for them. Robert Kristo getting a couple goals for us was important. We took care of business. In the Open Cup, you have to be ready for anything. I think Richmond is a good team and they made us make some decisions today. It was a good test for us and I was pleased with guys that got 90 minutes that haven’t gotten 90 minutes before.”
It didn’t take long for NCFC to get started, as Dre Fortune scored with a beautiful, curling volley from outside the box in the 16th minute. Austin Panchot played a looping cross in from the right flank before Donovan Ewolo provided the layoff for Fortune who hit the ball on the bounce.
The lead wouldn’t hold up for long. Richmond scored an equalizer in the 34th minute. Joe Gallardo recorded an assist as his cross found Wahab Ackwei at the far post.
The teams entered halftime on level terms, but a quick response from NCFC out of the break opened an insurmountable lead.
In the 52nd minute, NCFC pulled ahead with a header from Robert Kristo. Caleb Duvernay lofted a booming cross in from the left wing and Kristo outjumped a Richmond defender and headed home the goal.
Just minutes later, Kristo extended the lead to 3-1 after earning and converting a penalty kick. Kristo was fouled in the box after dribbling past a defender. The forward stepped up to the spot and coolly buried the shot to bring him to four goals on the season in all competitions.
In the 70th minute and just minutes after coming in the game, Yamikani Chester extended the lead and scored his first career goal for NCFC. Manny Perez started the play by getting free on the right side. His pinpoint cross floated across the six-yard box before Chester ran on the end of the pass and blasted the shot into the far corner.
From there, NCFC saw out the reaming minutes of the game to earn the victory.
North Carolina FC will resume its USL Championship campaign on Saturday, May 18 against Birmingham Legion FC (tickets). Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Coastal Credit Union Box Office at 919-459-8144. The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup continues on Wednesday, May 29 as NCFC faces the Florida Soccer Soldiers from the UPSL on Field 2 at WakeMed Soccer Park.
North Carolina FC rookies Austin Panchot and Timmy Mehl earned their professional debuts, with both appearing in the starting lineup.
Duval Wapiwo made his NCFC debut and earned his first start, while Robert Kristo also appeared in the starting lineup for the first time in his NCFC career.
The club’s youth-to-professional pipeline was well represented with NCFC Academy products Dre Fortune, Manny Perez and Caleb Duvernay starting for NCFC. Fellow Academy product DJ Taylor appeared on the NCFC bench, and played the entire second half. Nick Retzlaff, another former Academy and NCFC U23 player, started the game for the Richmond Kickers.
Former RailHawks Akira Fitzgerald and Daniel Jackson were in the 18 for Richmond. Fitzgerald started and played 90 minutes, while Jackson was an unused substitute.
Dre Fortune scored his first goal of the season off an assist from Donovan Ewolo.
Robert Kristo recorded a brace with an assist from Caleb Duvernay on the first goal. He converted a PK for his second goal.
Yamikani Chester scored the first goal of his NCFC career off an assist from Manny Perez.
NCFC improves to 5W-1L-0D in official competitions against the Richmond Kickers.
NCFC has advanced past its first U.S. Open Cup opponent for the 10th time in club history.
NCFC (4-2-3-1): Darrin MacLeod; Caleb Duvernay, Aaron Guillen ©, Tim Mehl, Manny Perez; Duval Wapiwo, Tommy McCabe (Graham Smith, 77’); Donovan Ewolo (Yamikani Chester, 68’), Dre Fortune, Austin Panchot (DJ Taylor, 46’); Robert Kristo
Subs not used: Alex Tambakis, Steven Miller, Ben Speas, Marios Lomis
RIC (4-5-1): Akira Fitzgerald; Scott Thomsen, Ivan Magalhães, Conor Shanosky (Josh Hughes, 63’), Wahab Ackwei; Braeden Troyer (Eli Lockaby, 62’), Nick Retzlaff (Mutaya Mwape, 63’), Maxi Rodriguez ©, Matt Bolduc, Joe Gallardo; Charles Boateng
Subs not used: Joe Rice, Greg Boehme, Dennis Chin, Daniel Jackson
NCFC: Dre Fortune (Donovan Ewolo, 16’), Robert Kristo (Caleb Duvernay, 52’, Penalty, 61’), Yamikani Chester (Manny Peres, 70’)
RIC: Wahab Ackwei (Joe Gallardo, 34’)
NCFC: Tommy McCabe 47’, Dre Fortune 53’, Duval Wapiwo 82’
RIC: Wahab Ackwei 60’