CARY — A big reward awaited the Carolina RailHawks if they could get past the Charlotte Eagles of the USL in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Wednesday night.
The RailHawks did just that, and with the 2-0 victory, Carolina will host Chivas USA of the MLS in the fourth round onJune 14.
With the win, the RailHawks extended their home unbeaten streak to 20 games.
RailHawks coach Colin Clarke is very excited about playing against Chivas USA.
“Now we don’t have a break, which is great. We can keep on going, and hopefully get a good result there, and move on,” he said. “We’ve had some great nights in this competition over the past couple of years, and we’re looking forward to another one.”
After a sluggish start in the first few minutes, the RailHawks scored first against Charlotte in the 14th minute on midfielder Nazmi Albadawi’s goal.
Albadawi came up with the ball near the right side of the penalty box, and was immediately surrounded by defenders. He turned around and sent out a low kick that never left the ground as it got past Charlotte goalkeeper Brock Duckworth.
It was the first pro goal for Albadawi, a the former N.C. State standout in his first season with the RailHawks.
Albadawi’s first start of the season came last Saturday in NASL play against Minnesota United FC, and Clarke said Albadawi is an eager learner who follows directions.
“He listens and learns. He’s doing simple things very well. He’s earned his way onto this team,” Clarke said.
The two teams each had their fair share of opportunities in the remainder of the first half, but Carolina capitalized as midfielder Jun Marques Davidson scored an easy goal two minutes into stoppage time.
While the goal went down as unassisted, Davidson can thank RailHawks forward Mike Grella for the score.
Grella attacked the goal and Duckworth blocked the shot, but the ball ended up in front of Davidson while Duckworth was still on the ground.
“I was like, ‘OK, this is the last chance of the first half. I’m going to go as hard as I can, and see what happens,’ ” Davidson said. “If Grella scored from that, that’s great, but if I could get the rebound, that’s great. The rebound happened, so I just had to tap it in.”
The RailHawks are now 3-0-0 this season when scoring two or more goals in the first half.
While Carolina got the job done on offense, its defense also stood out, including goalkeeper Scott Goodwin.
The game was Goodwin’s first start of the season as starter Akira Fitzgerald took the night off just a few days after shutting out Minnesota FC.
Charlotte didn’t make anything easy for the RailHawks, though. The Eagles took 12 corner kicks, and had five shots on goal.
The RailHawks completed their third straight shutout, and all things considered, Clarke is very happy about that.
“I was pleased that we shut out,” he said. “There were too many chances around our goal, I thought. Too many balls that we didn’t hit, particularly corners and set plays.”
Carolina will resume NASL play again on Saturdayas the team hosts the Tampa Bay Rowdies.