On Tuesday afternoon, Brazil gave a soccer lesson in the importance of not turning off the focus. But FC Carolina Discoveries didn’t need the Seleçao’s epic 7-1 beating by Germany to learn that.
David Carton’s team was handed that lesson by NPSL South Atlantic Conference rival Upward Stars in a 4-1 loss at Clemson’s Riggs Field on June 6. The sides were tied 1-1 at the half when Upward Stars took advantage of several lapses by Discoveries to blow the game open in the second 45 minutes.
“I think everybody, as a team, we have to show up,” said midfielder Stephen Nsereko, a former Winthrop Eagle standout and current Discoveries youth coach. “Last time, we don’t know what happened. Everybody was playing, but as soon as the second half started… we don’t know what happened.”
In the thick of a jumbled South Atlantic Conference table, Discoveries can’t afford a repeat. Carton’s bunch need to win 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night at Manchester Meadows, as well as Saturday in the season finale against Gate City FC, which will be played at District Three Stadium.
“Going into the last three games, results have gone our way, and having it in our hands gives us really something to play for,” said Carton, whose team has lost just once in the last six matches.
“Tomorrow night was gonna be a must-win anyway. After (Wednesday) night we’re just hoping Myrtle Beach can do us a favor. The guys need to realize that if we don’t do it tomorrow night then that’s it.”
Carton was referring to Upward Stars’ season finale at Myrtle Beach, which will likely influence the conference championship’s final destination. Casting aside other teams’ matches, the importance of the week, starting with Wednesday, isn’t lost on the Discoveries players or coaches, Nsereko especially.
“I talked to the boys and said, ‘we got to be ready to go tomorrow,’” said the Ugandan. “This is the last game for the season, so everybody has to be ready, whether you are on the bench or on the field, you have to give it all and that’s what matters.”
Upward Stars won five of the season’s first six matches, but succumbed to RailHawks Under-23’s (1-0) and Gate City FC (2-1) in their last two matches to fall back toward the chasing pack.
Upward Stars, based in Spartanburg, definitely pose an attacking threat, especially midfield play-maker Miguel Teos, who Carton said is one of the best players in the conference and did a lot of damage to Discoveries in the heavy beating at Clemson. Outside of the 4-1 loss, Discoveries have allowed just seven goals in their other 10 matches, a credit to a group that includes Jordi Lluch, Isaac Cowles, Wylie Rea, Andrew Raad and Nsereko, among others. Keepers Francisco Cardelle and Winthrop’s Guilherme Avilar have done their part as well.
“We haven’t spent a whole lot of time on how we defend,” said Carton. “We’ve talked about the different parts of the pitch and how we want to defend them, but really you have to talk about the individual parts of the team and how hard they’ve worked to keep the goals-against down.”
With Germany’s seven goals on Tuesday perhaps still fresh on the mind, Carton plans to start Charlotte 49ers attacker Zhuvonte Wilson from the opening kick Wednesday night to inject some pace in the side. It’s all part of a plan to chase a result instead of sitting back and wishing for one.
“We have to win the game, so we’ll be aggressive and attack,” Carton said before Tuesday evening’s training session at Cherry Park. “We really have to have a swashbuckling style tomorrow. We need to score goals.”
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T