CARY, N.C. – They had their chances early, and a few later, but couldn’t capitalize on any of them.
The first-place Carolina RailHawks ended up with a scoreless draw against expansion team Miami FC in front of a crowd of 7,107 at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday.
Sitting tied with the New York Cosmos at the top of the North American Soccer League (NASL) table before the game, Carolina remained in that spot, and with a dormant Cosmos squad, shared it instead with Minnesota United FC who beat Jacksonville 2-0 on the night.
Since starting the Spring season undefeated with nine goals for and four against, Carolina came into the matchup against Miami as losers of its last two and with only a single goal for and four against.
They continued to struggle to put the ball in the goal.
During the first half, a dribbler that hit the right post on a diving spike from Billy Schuler was the closest Carolina got to ending the scoreless tie.
“First half, we were very good at times,” RailHawks head coach Colin Clarke said.
“We created a lot of opportunities. Their keeper pulled off a couple of close-range reaction saves. The second half was a little bit of a stalemate, but overall I thought we edged it and deserved the three points. Disappointed.”
As Miami made defensive adjustments to start the next 45, it took the RailHawks some time to once again try to penetrate a tighter back four directed by keeper Daniel Vega.
Carolina’s best scoring chance came in the 55th minute when Nazmi Albadawi’s bicycle kick towards the heart of the goal looked as though it would press the net.
However, the attempt was denied as Vega was in position to make the stop as the ball made it through traffic in the crease.
“I think they stepped on it and put us under a little more pressure second half,” Clarke said.
“As a team they stepped a little higher and we didn’t pass the ball well the first 15-20 minutes of the second half. As the half wore on, we got into some good spots. Just that final ball, that final little chance just didn’t fall our way in their box.”
Miami FC which has yet to record its first NASL win, finished on a positive note in earning the draw – ending a four-game losing streak and not allowing the Railhawks to score through 92 minutes of play.
Leading into the game, Miami had been shutout in two straight games and conceded the most goals (12) in league play.
Miami head coach Alessandro Nesta denied two requests to attend the postgame presser with media to discuss his team’s performance, and provided no reason for not doing so.
CAR: Fitzgerald, Tobin, Moses (Beckie, 65), Black, Mensing, Watson (Ceballos, 65), Shriver, Perez, Shipalane, Schuler (Hasan, 87), Albadawi
MIA: Vega, Borrajo, Trafford, Adailton, Bernstein, Rezende, Ryan, Martinez (Kcira, 90), Smith (Richards, 74), Cvitanich, Chavez (Campos, 88)
GOALS: CAR: –; MIA: —
CAUTIONS: CAR: –; MIA: Adailton, 31; Trafford, 72
EJECTIONS: CAR: –; MIA: —