Welcome to the Classic Championship Game of the Day, where today we return to one of the decisive games in the race for the USL Championship Playoffs during the 2018 regular season as North Carolina FC played host to the New York Red Bulls II at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Both sides had three games remaining and were separated by a point either side of the playoff line in the Eastern Conference. North Carolina had pushed into eighth place thanks to a solid second half of the season that had seen it suffer defeat only three times and had picked up victories in three of its last four outings to push above the playoff line. NCFC had battled back to take a 3-2 win in its most recent outing as Kyle Bekker struck twice against the Richmond Kickers, but going into its home finale knew victory was essential with six teams separated by five points between fifth and 10th position.
Filling that 10th place in the East were the Red Bulls II, who were in danger of missing out on the postseason for the first time in the Championship after a season of ups and downs. New York’s attack had been prolific at times, recording at least four goals in a game on eight occasions during the campaign, but defensively the side had shown in consistency, leaving the team with only 10 wins and 13 draws. Coming off three consecutive draws that had allowed NCFC to pass them in the standings, the Red Bulls II needed a big road performance to have a chance at jumping back above the playoff line.
The scene is set, so sit back, relax and enjoy a classic clash from the Championship’s history.