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North Carolina FC’s Playoff Race Continues with Richmond Match

By Brennan Doherty, 09/28/18, 2:15PM EDT


RADIO: 620 The Ticket
CARY, N.C. (September 28, 2018) - After picking up six out of a possible nine points on a three-game road swing, North Carolina FC returns home to face the Richmond Kickers on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. 
With four games remaining in the regular season, NCFC (11W-11L-8D, 41 points) finds itself right in the thick of a playoff race. Currently, coach Colin Clarke’s group is just two points removed from the eighth seed in the USL’s Eastern Conference, and the upcoming match against the Kickers is a valuable opportunity to add three more points. 
The match is the third and final regular-season showdown between the two teams and the first in Cary. 
After falling to the Kickers 2-1 in March, NCFC avenged that defeat with a 3-1 triumph in its return to City Stadium in June. 
Saturday evening, both Richmond and NCFC will attempt to bounce back from losses on Wednesday. The Kickers are coming off a 4-1 defeat at the hands of FC Cincinnati, the league’s leader in points. NCFC, meanwhile, found itself in a scoreless deadlock with the Charleston Battery for much of the night before the home side pulled away with two stoppage-time goals. 
With three games remaining in its campaign, Richmond sits in 15th place in the Eastern Conference with 22 points (6W-21L-4D). In June, longtime Kickers coach Leigh Cowlishaw stepped down from his role after 19 years as gaffer to focus on his role as the club’s director of football. His replacement, David Bulow, took over on June 27. 
Saturday’s match will continue the rich history of competition between Richmond and the Triangle. As early as 1993, the Raleigh Flyers faced the Kickers, and that rivalry continued to grow throughout the 1990s and early 2000s with the Raleigh Capital Express. 
Last Time Out:
Having earned a pair of home draws against the Battery earlier this season, NCFC went down to Charleston Wednesday with hopes of snatching a third consecutive road win after triumphs at Penn FC and Atlanta United 2. 
For much of the match, doing just that seemed possible. In what was an evenly matched battle, Charleston outshot NCFC 12-11, but NCFC controlled 53.4 percent of the possession. 
Throughout the match, both teams had multiple opportunities to pull ahead, and NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis did well to keep Charleston scoreless for much of the game. 
Eventually, the Battery pulled away with goals from Victor Mansaray in the 91st minute and Ian Svantesson in the 94th. 

Players to Watch: 
NCFC – No. 6 Austin da Luz 
Austin da Luz has continuously proven his importance to NCFC as a club co-captain and because of his ability to distribute in the midfield. This season, da Luz has also provided four goals, one of which came in NCFC’s most recent match against the Kickers. A repeat performance could bode well for NCFC; the team is 4W-0L-0D when da Luz finds the back of the net. 

Richmond Kickers – No. 21 Brian Shriver 
Brian Shriver has a good reason to look forward to Saturday’s match at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park: he’s scored a bunch of goals here. Shriver played for the then-RailHawks from 2012-13 and rejoined the team for another stint from 2016-17. In 2013, Shriver won the NASL Golden Boot with 15 goals, and his 35 goals between league and Open Cup play are the most in club history. This season, Shriver leads the Kickers with seven goals. 

Up Next: 
NCFC will close out its home slate with a match against New York Red Bulls II on Saturday, October 6 at 7 p.m. ET. 
In August, NCFC earned a come-from-behind 2-2 draw in Montclair, N.J., against the Red Bulls thanks to a 90th-minute strike by substitute Donovan Ewolo. 

Tickets are available online, over the phone at 919-459-8144 or in-person at the Coastal Credit Union Box Office.