Jul 19, 2009
CARY, N.C. – In all likelihood, Carolina RailHawks midfielder Josh Gardner would not have played in Saturday’s friendly against Mexico’s Tecos had he been in the lineup the night before, when the RailHawks beat league foe Vancouver.
But Gardner was serving a red card suspension for that match, so Carolina coach Martin Rennie placed Gardner on the left wing Saturday, and his presence was critical to the RailHawks’ 2-1 win at before 4,531 t WakeMed Soccer Park.
Gardner assisted on the RailHawks’ first goal then scored the game winner in the 81st.
It was the RailHawks’ first win in the Futbol Tecate series. They lost the first match in 2007 to Cruz Azul and lost last year’s edition to Monterrey.
Most importantly, though, the RailHawks continue winning, regardless of the stakes. They’ve now won five in a row, dating back to the 1-0 win over Panama on June 30.
“We stuck to the game plan,” Rennie said. “We were a little bit deeper than we normally play. They had a lot of the ball and a lot of the pressure, but they had five chances on goal. That’s not too bad. And we had four chances on the break. It comes down to goals, and we managed to get two.”
The RailHawks absorbed an absurd amount of pressure and were outshot 25-7. Goalkeeper Eric Reed stood on his head and came up with six saves. The fact that the RailHawks conceded just one goal despite the unending pressure is even more impressive because the backline of Jeremy Tolleson, Devon McKenney, Brad Rusin and John Gilkerson hadn’t played together yet this season. And McKenney was making his first appearance since suffering a hamstring injury in Austin on June 19.
“It's definitely a challenge, because as much talent as we have, when guys aren't used to each other on the field, it's a little harder,” Reed said. “It was a loud crowd and it was a great atmosphere, which made it harder for us to communicate. But the guys are athletic enough and they’re all so intelligent on the ball and in their positioning they’re so versatile on the field. Especially guys like Devon, able to go outside back to inside back and play a full 90 coming off injury, he had a phenomenal game tonight and a great effort.”
The RailHawks opened the game up early with Gavin Glinton’s goal in the 11th minute.
On a counterattack, Gardner played a ball into space for Glinton. Glinton ran onto it near the top of the penalty area, held off a pair of defenders, then knocked the ball past Tecos goalkeeper Israel Villasénor.
“I know Gavin and I know those forwards, they make good runs all day,” Gardner said. “And it's my job to get the ball to them. They were spacing me high, so I just tried to play it in that spot, and it worked out. He had a great finish.”
Unfortunately, Glinton’s night was shortlived. He reaggravated a hamstring injury in the 33rd minute and left the field on crutches.
Facing the early 1-0 deficit, Tecos went on the attack. They nearly got one in the 21st minute, but Reed made an unbelievable save, denying a Juan Carlos Leanò header from six yards.
In the 31st minute, Tecos’ Bruno Marioni had a breakaway, but with only Reed to beat, Marioni pushed the shot wide.
The RailHawks nearly went ahead 2-0 in the 35th minute, when Gilkerson’s quick throw-in sprung Aaron King free. But Villasénor denied King’s breakaway chance.
In first half stoppage time, Tecos’ Diego Gimenez saw a potentially game-tying header off a corner kick zoom over the crossbar.
In the 63rd minute, Ruben Sambueza played a low ball across the mouth of the goal, but the ball was just out of the reach of two teammates and it rolled wide of the far post.
Tecos was finally able to put one between the posts in the 71st minute. Samuel Ochoa equalized for the visitors, taking advantage of a missed clearance by the Carolina backline, he buried the chance.
With the prospect of penalty kicks looming if the teams were tied after 90 minutes, the RailHawks removed that possibility in the 81st minute. Amir Lowery led the break on a counterattack. As he sucked the defense in, he laid a ball off to Gardner on the left, and the winger buried the chance.
The RailHawks, just a point back in the USL-1 standings, will have another compact weekend next week. They go to Charleston on Friday, then return to Cary to face Miami two days later. But they’ll be going into the congested weekend soaring from their performance this weekend.
“Defense or offense, it didn't matter, because our guys worked as hard as they could for the whole time, never let down,” Reed said. “So it's a great sign for going forward for the effort that we can put forward every single game and with last night's victory and today, it just puts us all in a good mood, and we'll all look forward to coming to practice this week and going forward still.
TEC: GK Israel Villasénor, D Rafael Medina (Daniel Alcantar, 81st), D Marcelo Alatorre (Rodrigo Ruiz, 54th), D Diego Gimenez (Oswaldo Alanis, 87th), D Juan Carlos Leanò, D Carlos Morales (Gustavo Partida, 81st), M Damian Zamogilny (Joel Sanchez, 61st), M Elgabry Rangel (Emerson Lomeli, 75th), M Rubens Sambueza, F Bruno Marioni, F Fredy Bareiro (Samuel Ochoa, 66th)
CAR: GK Eric Reed, D John Gilkerson, D Jeremy Tolleson (Caleb Norkus, 46th), D Brad Rusin, D Devon McKenney, M Kupono Low (Amir Lowery,61st) , M Joseph Kabwe, M Luke Kreamalmeyer, M Josh Gardner (Nate Norman, 90th), F Gavin Glinton, F Andriy Budnyy (Brian Plotkin, 75th)
CAR: Gavin Glinton (Josh Gardner), 11th
TEC: Samuel Ochoa, 71st
CAR: Josh Gardner (Amir Lowery), 81st
TEC: Damian Zamogilny, 17th;
CAR: Jeremy Tolleson, 40th; Devon McKenney, 66th;