In its inaugural home match, NPSL newcomers Northern Virginia United FC defeated cross-river rivals FC Frederick 2-1 in front of a lively crowd at CroppMetcalfe Park at Evergreen Sportsplex.
In a first half dominated by the home side, with several chances falling to the Sky Blues inside the visitors’ penalty area, FC Frederick were the first to find a breakthrough with a goal from Jacob Gosselin right on the stroke of half time. The forward latched onto a ball played over the top of the United defense by Kevin Morris, where he deftly lifted the ball over goalkeeper James Knoebel, giving the visitors a 1-0 halftime advantage.
The second period began much like the first, with NVU controlling much of the possession and seeing several shots blocked by Frederick defenders. FC Frederick did find themselves inside the United box a few times, with one such chance forcing an athletic save from substitute goalkeeper Colin Shutler, who entered the match at half time for Knoebel. The match began to turn chippy as the second half wore on, with United midfielder Chris Welsh receiving a yellow card in the 52nd minute, and substitute Nick Short receiving a booking later in the 74th. The constant United pressure finally led to a breakthrough for the home side, with a cross from midfielder Shaka Bangura finding its way via a deflection to forward Gio Vasquez, who buried his chance in the 67th minute to level the match at 1-1.
After the goal, United found another gear as they pressed for the match winner, which came from a set piece in the 71st minute. Chris Welsh whipped in a teasing corner for Shaka Bangura to get on the end of, and provider turned goalscorer to give United their first lead of the match with just under twenty minutes to play.
FC Frederick responded well to going behind, finding more possession in midfield and pushing for an equalizer, but were held at bay by an organized United defense led by Daniel Welsh and man of the match Collin Verfurth. Short received his booking for a clumsy tackle, but United’s discipline held until the final whistle, giving the Sky Blues all three points in their inaugural home match.
After the game, with thunderstorms bearing down on the stadium, Northern Virginia players stayed long after the conclusion of the match to sign autographs and take pictures with some of the 313 fans who braved a hot and humid evening to witness the dream of professional soccer come to life in the Northern Virginia countryside.
Head coach Brian Welsh had a number of thoughts on the team’s first competitive outing.
“It was great to win our inaugural game and especially sweet to come back from a goal down. Frederick were a good side, and we are looking forward to the visit of FC Baltimore next week.”
Contributor: Connor Aiden Lee/Northern Virginia United FC
Photo Credit: Chris Jennings/Northern Virginia United FC