For the second year in a row, the Carolina RailHawks saw their hopes for a deep run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup come to an early end. And again, the culprit was a third-division squad from the USL-2.
For last night's game in Charleston's Blackbaud Stadium, RailHawks coach Martin Rennie started two defensive midfielders, Brad Rusin and Amir Lowery. Despite the cautious posture, two first-half goals by Rudolph Mayard and Lamar Neagle were all the Battery needed to hold off the visitors, 2-1.
In the second half, Rennie made three aggressive substitutions, successively inserting Sallieu Bundu for Lowery, Daniel Paladini for Rusin and Tiyi Shipalane for Gregory Richardson. A few minutes after the first two substitutions, in the 64th minute, the RailHawks pulled back a goal when striker Etienne Barbara found right back Greg Shields at the near post.
The Battery outshot the RailHawks 13-6, and no Carolina player took more than Matt Watson's two.
It was a tough night all around as the team traveled 560 miles round trip to lose before a crowd of 1,400. It's a disappointing U.S. Open Cup finish for the RailHawks, because America's lower division teams look to the century-old competition as a way to increase their exposure and make a run against MLS sides.
As a result of last night, it will be the Charleston Battery that travels next week to Bridgeview, Ill. to play the MLS Chicago Fire.
Here's the match report from the Charleston Battery.
The RailHawks return to USSF-D2 play this Saturday, June 26, at WakeMed Soccer Park when they host the Montreal Impact. Kickoff is 7 p.m.