Following a 6-1 drubbing of the Carolina Dynamo on May 17, North Carolina FC will take on the Charlotte Independence in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. The winner of this matchup will move on to the fourth round on June 14, where Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo awaits.
Before going to the game, here are the four biggest things to pay attention to in regard to the matchup and ramifications of advancing to the fourth round.
1. Offensive firepower
When NCFC blasted the Dynamo earlier this month, it was a historic mark for the club. The six goals scored in that game marked the most in any game in Open Cup play this season, and set the record for the most goals scored in the club’s history in the Open Cup.
It will be interesting if the Independence will be able to keep up with the scoring prowess of NCFC, as the Independence have lost or drawn in every game but one: a 5-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls II.
2. A familiar foe
NCFC will be playing not only for a fourth-round spot Wednesday night, but they will also be playing a team they it is very familiar with.
In each of the last two seasons, NCFC has taken on the Independence with a fourth-round spot on the line, splitting the two matchups, including a 5-0 beatdown in 2016.
3. Tough loss rebounders
North Carolina FC was defeated by the Jacksonville Armada Sunday afternoon, dropping them to third in the NASL standings. While it may seem like a bad thing for the NCFC to come into this game off of a loss, it shouldn’t be.
During this season, NCFC is 2-0 coming off of losses during the spring season, in which the team outscored its opponents 6-2.
4. Road warriors coming home
Despite NCFC coming home to Sahlen’s Stadium for the first time in two weeks, the majority of the team’s wins have come on the road, as the team went 3-2-1 on the road, while posting a modest 2-1-1 record at home.
NCFC has had a solid history in the Open Cup, reaching the fourth round in four of the last five seasons. Wednesday evening, the team will take the pitch at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park to make it five of six.