The Triangle area rivals squared off to a 2-2 draw during the opening match of the PDL season. Tobacco Road started the scoring when Zach Wright drove down the right side and found Joaquin del Rosario who banged it into the empty net. NCFC got back into the match when a neat flick from midfielder Nick Retzlaff sent Ryan Spaulding in on goal. The University of Charlotte left winger got an unstoppable shot on target from a tight angle to even things up. Spaulding was at it again five minutes from half when he weaved in and out multiple Tobacco Road defenders and squared it to an unmarked Dean Rutherford who gave the u-23 side a 2-1 lead heading to the break. The match was pretty even throughout the second half, Tobacco Road threw on some fresh legs to try to get the equalizer and found it with a minute left in the match as Jonathan Ray flicked a header past keeper Vinnie Durand to gain a share of the points.
Featured image compliments of @TobaccoRoadFC
North Carolina FC u-23s Starting XI
Winger Ryan Spaulding (University of Charlotte) was lethal in the first half. He showed his pace on the first goal to get behind the right back, his finishing with his far post strike on his goal, and the ability to dribble defenders on the second goal when he weaved through multiple defenders to score an assist. He was not as productive in the second half as the first. He shows good work-rate and the willingness to track back which is a necessity for a winger. Spaulding needs to continue to develop his upper body strength to stay on balance especially when there are attempts to knock him off the ball.
Central Midfielder Nick Retzlaff (NC State) kept busy throughout the match. He played the nice flick to set-up NC’s first goal. Decent work-rate to get up and down the pitch. He helped connect through the midfield. At times, he’ll need to play more forward passes and have the bite to win more tackles off the opposition. Doesn’t have the elite athleticism or physique but good energy and willing to fight for the team.
Tobacco Road FC Starting XI
Zach Wright (University of North Carolina) has tons of pace to him which he showed on the first goal. Not as effective in the first half, he got more involved in the second when he moved in a more central position. The SKC Academy product found his chip on a breakaway blocked. He also was a bit unselfish in situations where I’ve seen him take a rip on goal. Playing as a striker and a right winger, his projected position is out wide so he can have room to run.
German Mendoza played in the center of midfield. He has quick, clever feet, very confident in his dribbling ability and ball control. The decision-making at times is questionable and he makes rash tackles on occasion. An all right footed player, he had an opportunity to take a rip with his left but went with an outside of the foot pass with the right.
Substitute right forward, Eli Garner came on and provided a spark for the visiting side. He provided speed, strength, and determination getting up the right-hand side. He served in several dangerous crosses but his teammates failed to put the finishing touches. The former Richmond Kickers player will play a key veteran role for the Durham based side as the season continues.
“Off the Wall”
It’s a pretty short one today. Shouts out to the homie who tried to get me on Snapchat singing Kendrick Lamar’s Humble during the Halftime break. You aren’t about to put me in your story today.