Neil Morris

Another late penalty hands North Carolina 1-1 draw

Posted July 29

— After defeating the Puerto Rico FC two weeks ago, North Carolina FC manager Colin Clarke promised personnel changes—both comings and goings—over the fortnight between the club’s finale to the NASL’s spring season and the advent of its fall campaign.

The overhaul thus far comprises a Brian Shriver departure here, adding a couple of Jacksonville Armada bench players there, inking a 19-year-old fullback, and rumors of a young Brazilian forward not yet seen. In the end, the same starting XI that defeated Puerto Rico on July 15 ran out for the rematch Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park. And after 90 minutes of paltry play, North Carolina FC again benefited from an added-time penalty, this time handing the home team a 1-1 draw.

Looking far more game than two weeks ago during their lackluster loss in Cary, Puerto Rico FC grabbed the initial lead thanks to a constellation of NCFC calamities. In the 13th minute, North Carolina FC goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre played a ball out of the back to James Marcelin, who was under pressure and dispossessed by PRFC midfielder Yuma. When Austin da Luz couldn’t clear the ball out of the area, Hector Ramos happily centered it back to Yuma, who dropped it off to Jordi Quintilla just inside the 18. Quintilla’s shot threaded two North Carolina defenders plus a diving Sylvestre for a 1-0 advantage that remained through halftime.

“We knew they were going to hit us on the counter, we knew they were going to wait to pick us off and make that bad pass, and we made a bad decision and conceded a goal,” Clarke said.

Clarke carried on an animated conversation with center referee Timothy Ford prior to the second half. After the match, Clarke shared what he discussed.

“The penalty [non]calls in the first half, and a couple of [Puerto Rico] tackles that I thought warranted a yellow card and didn’t receive them, particularly early in the game,” Clarke said. “Then he gives Austin da Luz a yellow on the far side … that didn’t look any worse than had happened previously.”

Moreover, an outwardly disgusted Clarke subbed off Lance Laing at intermission in favor new arrival Jonathan Glenn, who arrived from the Armada in the Brian Shriver trade. Clarke also shifted to a 4-4-2 for the second stanza, hoping to jump start his offense.

“It was purely tactical,” Clarke said when asked about taking Laing off at halftime for the second time this year. “For me, I could have removed any of seven players—I thought we were that poor, as far as passing, moving, keeping the ball and making good decisions. I wanted to go two up front, so I had to choose remove somebody, and Lance was the one I decided to go with.”

Any regrets about removing Laing, given the four free kicks within striking distance NCFC earned in the second half that Laing, a dead ball specialist, wasn’t on the field to take?

“I didn’t even think about it,” Clarke said with a smirk. “I can’t go back. I knew what I was taking off and what I was bringing on, and you live with it from there.”

Though more energized, North Carolina’s impotent play continued in the second half, and Puerto Rico appeared bound for their first road victory this year. But as the clock reached regulation time, North Carolina FC finally found an erstwhile elusive equalizer. Ford whistled Puerto Rico for a penalty in the area, much to the ire of PRFC manager Marco Velez, who was subsequently dismissed from the touchline. Multiple views of video replay surmise a trip of NCFC’s Steven Miller during a scrum in the area.

“I didn’t really know what [the referee] called, because it was a big scuffle and you really couldn’t see,” Velez said. “From what a player told me, a guy extended his leg and the guy who [earned] the call didn’t even fall.”

Matt Fondy blasted home the ensuing kick from the spot for the 1-1 draw. According to Puerto Rico President Tom Payne, who made the trip to Cary, it’s the sixth goal his team has surrendered past the 90th minute this season.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Velez said. “My guys gave everything they had, and unfortunately, again, for some reason we always end up tying or losing a game by a decision that’s out of our hands.”

Clarke briefly spoke about the trade, announced Friday, that sent Brian Shriver to Jacksonville for Glenn and Danny Barrow.

“Glenn’s someone we’ve seen, plus the other kid, Danny Barrow, who is a young, very dynamic left-footed player who likes to play on the right but can also play inside, someone who can beat somebody off the dribble 1-v-1,” Clarke said. “We’ve been talking with Jacksonville; they called us, as every team has done over the last month. I felt it was a good move for us. We wish Brian well and thank him for everything he’s done here. But I felt it was the right decision to make.”

North Carolina FC travels to Miami FC next Saturday, August 5 before returning to Sahlen’s Stadium in Cary for two matches against Jacksonville on Saturday, August 12 and then Miami on Tuesday, August 15. Clarke says that he’s still working to improve his squad with 15 games still left in the regular season.

“If we do the fall season the same as the spring, we don’t make the playoffs,” Clarke said. “So we have to improve and get better. We brought in some forwards to score more goals, and we can still get better defensively. That’s something we continue to work on with the players we have, but there are always options to make moves.”

BOX SCORE:

LINEUPS

NCFC: Sylvestre, Black, Tobin, Ibeagha, Miller, Marcelin, da Luz (Shipalane, 82’), Albadawi, Laing (Glenn, 46’), Carranza, Fondy (Fortune, 90’)
PRFC: Spangenberg, Kavita, Dawson, S. Moses, Yuma, Puerto, Quintilla (Kafari, 68’), Ramirez, Doyle (S. Rivera, 90’), H. Ramos, Gentile (Culbertson, 80’)

GOALS

NCFC: Fondy, 90’ (PK)
PRFC: Quintilla, 13’ (Yuma)

CAUTIONS

NCFC: da Luz, 4’
PRFC: Quintilla, 34’; Ramirez, 20’; Spangenberg, 72’; Kavita, 76’; Kafari, 84’; Puerto, 90’

EJECTIONS

NCFC: ---
PRFC: ---

ATTENDANCE: 4,166

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