For the second week in a row, North Carolina FC play a home match that, for the second week in a row, feels bigger than one should with 10 games left to play. Only four home matches remain in the 2017 NASL Season and each point available feels more precious than a can of PBR at Hopscotch.
FC Edmonton come to ‘The Sahlen’ for the eleventh time in their history. Out of the last 10 meetings, NCFC has taken 3 points on all but one occasion. While that is a ridiculously absurd tilt, NCFC hasn’t had much luck at home lately against other opposition. In fact, the Oaks haven’t won a game at home yet in the young NASL Fall Season.
Flashy Headline: This could be the most important game of the season.
Yep. It’s that simple. If Halloween rolls around and NCFC are sitting a few points out of the playoffs, this could be the night we look back to as one of those “if only” type nights.
Enough with the doom and gloom, here’s where I tell you why it won’t be.
After a winnable draw against the New York Cosmos, grabbing 3 points at home is just the thing needed to swing the Fall Season. While Renan Gorne might not have been the ‘prince that was promised’ (not yet atleast), his deep positioning is what allowed us to pull home a point late last week. Last week’s match also saw Nazmi playing in a more advanced role as he factored in both goals. Though he didn’t crack the score sheet, Tiyi Shipalane also had one of his best games of the season, creating numerous chances. Colin Clarke has experimented with countless frontline combinations this year and finally may have landed on one to ride with. This week we won’t be facing the high powered offense of the Cosmos, quite the opposite actually. Edmonton is the lowest scoring team in the league, only netting 19 times so far this season.
Edmonton Player to Watch: The offense of the Eddies has been run strictly through Tomi Ameobi as of late. The effect stopping Ameobi has on the Eddies attack is akin to putting boxing gloves on Connor MacGregor and speaking as someone who put money on MacGregor (dreamers gotta dream), it had quite the neutering effect.
North Carolina FC Play to Watch: As mentioned earlier, Nazmi Albadawi. When NC State’s golden child is allowed to play a more forward/attacking role, good things happen. Without a doubt, our offense runs through Naz: Unleash the dragon Colin Clarke, unleash the dragon. If Naz is allowed to roam free to create space, the goals will come and we’ll take all three points.
Momentum is one of those annoying words we raise above our head like Simba when we want to feel good about our club. It’s also that thing we’re quick to disregard whenever it’s not in our favor. Regardless of how you look at it, this match could have a pendulum effect on how the momentum of the club tilts for the remainder of the season.
TL;DR – This is a huge match. Edmonton doesn’t score a lot and our offense is starting to click.
Game Plan: Put in a few goals, bust out a few ‘John Walls’ in celebration, and meet for celebration pints at London Bridge Pub after.