USLLIVE.com—The RailHawks burned a lot of carbon on a flight to Minnesota on Sunday afternoon that yielded very little in the way of ecologically correct, status-boosting offsets.
The ’Hawks came into the game in second place with 23 points. Eighteen of those points had come from six victories over the bottom four teams in the league: Austin, Miami, Minnesota and Cleveland. A victory over the Minnesota Thunder Sunday would have taken their record over Rust Belt/ Iron Range opponents to 6-0. Instead, a ghastly first half (in which they were outshot 8-2) gave the Thunder all the openings they would need for their first victory, 2-0.
To complete the waste of the afternoon (not to mention the jet fuel), Kupono Low received a garbage-time red card and will be unavailable for this Friday's trip to Austin.
Unsurprisingly, coach Martin Rennie's lineup featured surprises. As promised, Greg Dalby, on weekend loan from the MLS Colorado Rapids, started in midfield. He was paired with Matt Watson while Brad Rusin started as the holding midfielder. Devon McKenney was given the day off at right back where Caleb Norkus got the start instead.
The goals came early, in the 13th and the 27th, and both were headers, one off a free kick and the other on a corner. My USLLive feed was so spotty that I missed the first goal and saw the second goal only once. So, I was in no position to tell who let whom go unmarked. But one couldn't help but wish for the mighty head of Amir Lowery.
It was a bad show all around: Norkus jawed with the ref over an out-of-bounds that wasn't called while his man continued with the ball into the box; striker Andriy Budnyy drew a well-deserved caution for flopping moments after he couldn't get a shot off from a ball in the box from Gardner; Dalby gave away simple passes.
The second half was marginally better: Daniel Paladini started the second half as Rusin was taken off with Dalby moving over to his spot (and looked better there). Later, Rennie turned over the rest of the attacking end, using all four of his remaining subs: Diallo in for Budnyy; Plotkin in for Gardner; Glinton in for Watson; Kreamalmeyer in for Kabwe. All to little avail: The ’Hawks outshot the Thunder 9-6 in the second half, but only troubled Nic Platter a couple of times.
Despite the afternoon's debacle, the ’Hawks are just a point behind league-leading Charleston and three points clear of Portland (who have a game in hand, and who also just won two points from their tough weekend road trip to the Carolinas). And Greg Dalby presumably is back in Colorado.
The RailHawks are back in action Tuesday, June 16, against the Wilmington Hammerheads in US Open Cup play. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at WakeMed's Field 2.
Box score here.