FC Carolina Discoveries host Carolina Railhawks Under-23’s in National Professional Soccer League action Wednesday night at Manchester Meadows.
The match, Discoveries’ penultimate home contest in the club’s inaugural NPSL campaign, kicks off at 7:30 p.m. David Carton’s team has only lost once in its last five matches – with three wins and a draw during that stretch – and as of Tuesday sat third in the South Atlantic Conference’s bunched five-team standings table. That’s a positive upward trend at the right time of the season, especially since Discoveries have to win the South Atlantic Conference to reach the postseason.
“If we win our last three games we’ll finish top of the league,” said Carton. “It’s mathematically possible that we finish last if we lose the last three games. We’re kicking off some injuries now, so the main thing now is keeping the players focused. We’ve got ourselves in position to go and win the thing, which is what we wanted. If we go get the results we need, we won’t have to worry about anyone else.”
Should Discoveries win the conference, they would then play the other three conference winners from the Southern region in a four-team tournament in Atlanta. The winner of that would advance to another four-team tournament contested by the winners of the four national regions. Discoveries face table-topping Upward Stars and Gate City FC in the summer’s final two regular season matches, following Wednesday’s contest against the Railhawks reserves.
Wednesday night, Discoveries’ back line should be boosted by the return of rightback Steven Nsereko from a hamstring injury, and Jordi Lluch, a Winthrop centerback, who recently returned from a trip to Brazil. Even with a bit of chopping and changing, Discoveries’ defense has been stingy, allowing nine goals in seven games, fewest in the South Atlantic Conference and fourth-least in the 26-team South Region.
Even with the pressure ramped up, Carton and his coaching staff recruited players that had experience winning trophies and feel comfortable that they’ll rise to the occasion.
“This situation we’ve got ourselves in is why,” said the Irishman. “They’ve got experience and they’re not unused to being in these situations. It’s a similar run-in now that they would’ve been involved in at Winthrop and so on.”
Free clinic before Wednesday’s game
Discoveries are hosting a free clinic for kids aged 12 and under before the Wednesday home game at Manchester Meadows. The clinic will run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., and players that attend the clinic will get a free ticket to the game. Register for the clinic on Discoveries’ website at www.fccarolinadiscoveries.com.
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T