WAKEMED SOCCER PARK—It was bloody hot, 2 p.m. on a Sunday. It took effort to get to the stadium. Surely, there were cooler things to do. When I sat, the backs of my legs burned until they absorbed the heat of the plastic. It hurt but I consoled myself with the realization that I was watching, not playing. Expectations were low. Miami FC and the RailHawks had both played on Friday night. It was hot. Hot like Mexico 1986, like USA 1994. Who chose this time of day in this month in the dang South? The game would be slow. I hoped the sweat running down my back would make it into the seat so I could sit in a puddle. Tweet!
Ten minutes of running industry produced a few good chances for the RailHawks before physiology trumped psychology. Everyone squinted at the emerald field for the next half an hour, wondering how much one would have to earn to run around a stadium wearing an oversized bird head. Swoops is probably receiving an intravenous drip in his cage. In the 39th minute, just as I felt the sweat reach my buttocks, Joseph Kabwe sliced through midfield, laid off to Gregory Richardson charging into the box on his left and the lad from Guyana slotted home from 12 yards. Luke Kreamalmeyer turned good fortune into a great goal with a sweet left-footed, lobbed volley four minutes later. The referee mercifully did not add any time. Tweet! We ran for the shade, 2-0 to the good.
In football, as in NASCAR, there is no substitute for skill and pace. Richardson has bags of both and he’s brought them with him to Cary. Twenty minutes into the second half, as the back of my neck changed hue, Daniel Paladini orchestrated Richardson’s second. His 30-yard run finished with a crashing left-footed drive that left the ‘keeper swatting at flies. Four minutes later, coach Martin Rennie gave Richardson the ball for a penalty (taking it from a clearly miffed Paladini), and Richardson notched his first hat trick in a RailHawks kit. 4-0. Tweet! The kid is hot.
Carolina had a shocking outing in Charleston on Friday night and missed a great chance to pick up some valuable points on the three points leaders. With this victory, however, they become the first team in USL-1 to reach 10 victories this season and have surpassed their victory total from last year. When the Austin Aztex come to visit next weekend, the Hawks will be without Amir Lowery and Paladini, but have the depth on the bench to cover for them. Richardson is the real deal and is supported by a solid defense and creative midfielders who can get him the ball in dangerous positions. 4-0 was a fair score today. Rennie’s side look deep, strong and organized. Kudos for a blistering show on a scorching day.
Stat box here.