The last time these two teams met in 2013, former UNC-Greensboro standout and Montreal Impact draftee Hakan Ilhan put a scare into the then-RailHawks before the NASL team pulled away at the end. This game between the Carolina Dynamo and North Carolina FC was not that close, as NCFC hammered the Dynamo 6-1 in North Carolina’s first-ever trip to MacPherson Stadium in Brown’s Summit, North Carolina.
Though the final scoreline wasn’t kind to a Dynamo team made up mostly of college players from the Triangle and Triad, the amateur side could feel relatively good about the opening quarter of the game. Danny Elliott was the one true menace to the NCFC backline, making his presence known early when his 4th minute endline cross merited a quick reaction from NCFC CB Andre Fortune. Elliott ran at the backline again in the 22nd minute but his cutback was cut out by Fortune.
That said, the experienced frontline of Matt Fondy, Tiyi Shipalane, and Brian Shriver generated most of the first half’s chances. They broke through in the 27th minute, as Shriver finished a deft sequence in the Dynamo box that included a Fondy lay-off and a Shipalane dummy.
With weekend NASL league games sandwiching the Open Cup game, North Carolina would have been forgiven for playing a reserve squad in Greensboro. Indeed, some reserves and prospects, like Fortune and goalkeeper Macklin Robinson, started. But the inclusion of Shipalane, Shriver, Fondy, and CB Connor Tobin signaled the seriousness with which NCFC takes the Open Cup.
Dynamo centerback Rashid Tetteh delayed the second goal for six minutes when he cleared a Kareem Moses shot off the line. But Fondy doubled the lead in the 37th minute with a calmly slotted ball past Dynamo keeper Ryan Cretens after a nearly 40-yard wide-open run.
Fondy did his best Shipalane impression in the 40th minute by making a darting run to the endline before laying it off to Shipalane himself for the easy blast to put NCFC up 3-0.
Even up 3-0, NCFC were relentless. The rare Dynamo opportunity came in the form of an Elliott counter. Sometimes it was a solo effort, like in the 43rd minute where Elliott had Fortune dead to rights, only to cut the wrong direction and into Tobin. Sometimes he had help, like in the 45th minute when Nicholas Adamczyk’s cross had to be dealt with by Tobin. Either way, the Dynamo likely didn’t complete more than ten passes in the NCFC half during the first 45 minutes.
It was at halftime that the sizable Raleigh contingent finally got to Macpherson Stadium. Already up comfortably, NCFC treated the loud Oak City Supporters to a fine second all the same. Halftime substitute Billy Schuller collected a Cretens miscue in the 47th minute to put North Carolina up 4-0. Ten minutes later, Jonathan Orlando made it five after a skillful feed from Shipalane.
“You’re still better than Charlotte,” chanted the visiting supporters, referencing the extra-time smackdown North Carolina laid on the Charlotte Independence in last year’s Open Cup third round. Elliott, presumably taking those words in stride, set up Dynamo’s only moment of joy in the 74th minute. But what a joy it was, as first-half substitute Justin Shear thundered home a volley from Elliott’s curling cross that made its way around NCFC defender James Marcelin. It was a goal worthy of goal-of-the-tournament recognition.
Schuller capped off the scoring in the 85th minute, slotting home Shriver’s pass to make it 6-1. North Carolina FC moves on to host the Independence for the third consecutive year on May 31.