In the second of a three-match away stand, Northern Virginia FC United completed a season sweep of cross-river rivals FC Frederick 1-0 at Hood College on a gorgeous Tuesday evening in Maryland. United cemented their place at the top of the Mid-Atlantic Conference standings with the win, getting back on track after a tough away loss to Charlottesville Alliance, in the second match in 24 hours for the Sky Blues.
United faced a difficult task visiting a Frederick side that they had struggled to break down 10 days prior, at CroppMetcalfe Park, but had a number of chances throughout the first half to do just that. United captain Shaka Bangura set the tone early with an effort on goal, and FC Frederick followed with several looks of their own before United forward Gio Vasquez was forced into a hurried shot at the edge of the area on the half hour mark. United’s task was made all the more difficult by the Frederick supporters, who created a “difficult atmosphere” to play in, according to Bangura. United ended the half with a free kick effort, but neither side managed to find a breakthrough before the intermission.
The second half began much like the first, with chances for United but no breakthrough. Chris Welsh whipped in a corner that bounced precariously around the Frederick penalty area but came to nothing, and the home side began to gain a foothold in the match again.
Misfortune struck for United in the 60th minute, as center back and Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week selection Daniel Welsh would have to exit the match due to injury. United debutant Juan Fajardo would step in to the middle of the back four, as Alex Shahmirzadi entered the match.
United continued to create chances, looking to become more dangerous in the final third. Tommy Buono fired a header straight at Frederick goalkeeper Philip Breno. Set pieces became the most likely method of breaking down a stingy Frederick back four, with several looks coming off of Welsh free kicks as the second half wore on. Buono found himself again with space inside the box with a quarter of an hour to play, but could not direct his shot past Breno.
Buono finally found the eventual winner, in the 84th minute, with a move started by Campbell’s dribble down the left wing into the attacking third, leading to a ball whipped into the box by Vasquez to Buono. The United sub took a touch back across the box and rolled a shot past Breno, the ball took a soft touch off the post before trickling into the goal, to give United the lead.
The game turned chippy in the latter stages, with Campbell and Frederick’s William Eskay receiving yellow cards in the last 10 minutes. Bangura, who had “run himself into the ground” according to visiting former Livingston FC executive Gordon McDougal, left the match in the 87th minute for Abdul Ismail after a captain’s performance. Frederick was presented with a free kick of their own just outside the box seconds later, but the chance came to nothing for the hosts. The final whistle brought an end to a hard-fought encounter, one that left Frederick frustrated and United happy to leave western Maryland with all three points.
“[It was] fun to be out on the field again, happy to get the result,” Fajardo commented.
NVUFC assistant coach Chris Jennings described the contest as “a hard-fought game.”
“Frederick was a top team,” Jennings continued. “ [These were] a big three points away from home.”
Taking all three points away from home was a big improvement from United’s previous travels, having lost in central Virginia 2-0 to third-place side Charlottesville Alliance three days prior. United were playing their second match in the space of 24 hours, having resoundingly beaten FC Baltimore at CroppMetcalfe Park 3-0 the night before.
United rested many of the players who had played against Baltimore, and came out a bit flat from the get-go. Charlottesville took their chances, scoring either side of half time to bag another home win at Charlottesville High School.
“Charlottesville was always going to be a tough match with the schedule,” NVUFC head coach Brian Welsh said after the match. “We rested some starters and were lacking sharpness. The better team won on the day. We were disappointed with our performance.”
Northern Virginia United FC continues its inaugural season, traveling next to Yorktown, Virginia, to take on sixth-place Virginia Legacy 76. This Mid-Atlantic Conference match will be played at Bailey Field Stadium, Saturday, June 16. Kickoff is 7:00 pm.
Contributor: Connor Lee/NVUFC
Photo Credit: Ryan Leung/NVUFC