North Carolina FC v Tampa Bay Rowdies

On St. Gertrude’s Day I got to attend my first North Carolina Football Club match. I had been looking forward to it since I discovered just before moving from California that I’d be living a few minutes from Wake Med Soccer Park.

It also happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, which meant many of the #NCFCFam were decked out in Tampa Bay Rowdies colors, making it appear that there were more than the three or four Rowdies fans who made the trip to Cary for the game. I believe the word we’re looking for here is, D’OH!

It was a cloudy and breezy afternoon and the weather forecasts had threatened (rain) showers in the afternoon1. Being from California I know the drill, so I was dressed in layers, topped with my trusty rain jacket and an NCFC/Courage scarf. It turned out to be a really nice afternoon: the clouds blew away about 30 minutes into the game, making it necessary to shed some layers.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of familiar faces on the pitch for NCFC: Michael Harrington and Futty Danso both played for the Timbers. Another former Timber, Michael Nanchoff, was on the pitch for the Rowdies.

Outside of the first five minutes of the game, and a four or five minute stretch in the second half, NCFC looked like the more organized side, dominating play for much of the match. However, they only made good on one of their chances for their lone score by Steven Miller in the 38th minute. In the 62nd minute, Kyle Bekker fed a gorgeous pass to Miller only to see Miller’s shot slide just wide of the post. A few minutes later Bekker had a wide open header just skiff over the top of the crossbar. To Tampa’s credit, they buried the few chances they got (including a penalty kick in the 40th minute).

Through it all, the Oak City Supporters group were in fine voice, chanting for the Boys in Blue and heckling Tampa Bay’s goalkeeper to the point he laughed. Everyone I encountered (even Rowdies fans) was very friendly and I got a nice welcome from NCFC!

I did manage to get a few photos with my little point-and-shoot. It’s really not cut out for sports photography, partly because the screen is impossible to see with the glare from the sun, but mostly it was shutter lag that caused the most missed shots.

National Anthem
NCFC Players lined up for the Star Spangled Banner
team huddle
NCFC team huddle just before the kickoff to the 2018 USL season.
Oak City Supporters Group
The Oak City Supporters were ready to get the party started!
NCFC v Tampa Bay Rowdies
Steven Miller starts the play upfield for NCFC.
NCFC v Tampa Bay Rowdies
An aerial scrum for the ball during the NCFC v Tampa Bay game
Thanking the Supporters
NCFC players made their way over to the Oak City Supporters section after the match to thank them.

1Evidently, even though it’s mere days away from Spring, I need to be specific that it’s rain and not snow showers. Weather be hella bonkers on the east coast.

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