First published on IMSoccer News
San Antonio shuts out Carolina 8-0 behind a four goal performance by NASL scoring leader Pablo Compos.
The Carolina Railhawks visited Heroes Stadium Saturday night for the first time ever, looking to improve their away form with only one win on the road. The Railhawks have improved in recent weeks adding six wins to their record after a rocky start to their season. Carolina Midfielder, Nick Zimmerman, came into the contest as the league’s second leading scorer with 9 goals on the season and faced his ex-teammate and league leading goal scorer Pablo Campos.
San Antonio were looking to continue a string of strong performances still atop the league behind the news of a big player signing earlier this week of Jeff Cunningham.
The Scorpions started the match with debutant Luis Tiago from Brazil in attack with his fellow countryman Pablo Campos. Missing Kevin Harmse from a suspension last week San Antonio head coach Tim Hankinson elected to start with a four man midfield and two strikers in a 4-4-2 formation.
The game started on equal footing but just under five minutes Jonathan Greenfield rather lazily pointed a cross from a free kick in the direction of the six yard box. The ball bounced around the Carolina defense as the Railhawk defenders struggled to clear the six. As the ball fell away from the crowd an astute Greg Janicki turned on a dime and finished the shot past Carolina keeper Ray Burse for the first goal of the night.
Around the 15th minute mark Carolina began looking comfortable in possession until during a venture forward they turned the ball over to the Scorpions and Fabian Kling moved the ball wide to Tiago who picked out Campos further forward. The pass was poorly dealt with between the two Railhawk defenders but the ball could have been easily cleared. However, Campos never gave up on the play and pestered the defenders into sending a stray ball toward their own box to which Campos obliged himself to hammer into the back of the net past a helpless Burse.
Carolina continued to look like a team who really wasn’t ready to start the match and with a two goal deficit continued to hemorrhage possession turing the ball over constantly.
Despite their horrible form early in the match, their play began to improve with some great passing sequences through the midfield.
But even as they began to settle in, another turnover in the Scorpions half led to a fast break up the field and a precise through ball was sent forward to Campos and the tall Brazilian looked set to break until he was fouled from behind by Carolina defender Austen King. King was deemed the last defender by the referee and he was penalized with a red card. The resulting free kick banged off of the post denying Luis Tiago his first goal for the Scorpions.
Carolina certainly had their opportunities in the Scorpions’ half playing quite open but their most dangerous opportunity was a low driven shot from Railhawk midfielder Zach Schilawski. Scorpions keeper Daryl Sattler easily handled the shot to end the half and any hope for Carolina to get back into the game.
The second half started with Esteban Bayona coming on for Luis Tiago and Bayona immediately began to contribute offensively. Around the 53rd minute Greenfield gained control of the ball and moved forward releasing Pablo Campos who broke free from Carolina defender Gale Agbossoumonde, and was brought down in the box for a penalty.
Campos cooly finished the PK in the lower left corner exercising past demons from the last time he was in front of the center spot where he missed two penalties against Puerto Rico during the home opener.
Shortly after, San Antonio earned a corner kick and Josue Soto sent an expertly taken corner kick which Greg Janicki finished with a towering header scoring his second of the night. Almost immediately aferward Esteban Bayona found himself breaking toward the Carolina goal with only Carolina defender Agbossoumonde to beat and fought past the US U-23 international slotting the ball past Burse into the opposite corner scoring his fifth goal of the season. The scoreline was 5-0 and the Scorpions looked no closer to holding back.
Just about then, Blake Wagner, in the 65th minute, pressed forward in possession of the ball and was practically invited to shoot about twenty yards out. Wagner pointed his head down and drove a ball high and to the right with a blistering shot past Burse ballooning the score to six and cementing Carolina’s road misery.
Shortly afterward, Walter Ramirez received the ball from a 40 yard pass by right back Wes Knight. He controlled the pass on the opposite side of the field and sent a cross toward the box meeting Bayona. Bayona helped the ball toward the net but Campos helped himself to a wide open goal and scored for a hat-trick.
Carolina continued to believe that attacking with few numbers was going to bring them closer to a goal. Turnovers, however, continued to haunt Carolina and in the 71st minute, Ramirez, collected a ball in the midfield and raced toward the goal leaving the Carolina defense in his wake with only Agbossoumonde to beat.
Ramirez, couldn’t get past the defender and needed to adjust his attack but saw that Campos was all alone in front of goal. Ramirez passed to Campos and the Brazilian forward padded his score total with a quick and easy finish topping a four goal performance against his former club.
Carolina had no illusions at this point and were giving everything to stay organized through the defense and midfield. Zach Schilawski was the lone forward for Carolina and seemed lost amid a forest of white jerseys as he patiently waited for the ball. The ball never came and when it did, the Scorpions defenders easily redirected Carolina’s advances.
The Scorpions continued their dominance toward the end of the match with an eight goal win shutting out Carolina in their second match of the season. The Scorpions continue next week hosting the Puerto Rico Islanders who trounced San Antonio by four goals during their inaugural home opener.
The Scorpions have already beaten Puerto Rico at home and will go into the match with a great deal of confidence, especially up front.
“A striker needs confidence, when you’re not confident it’s very hard to score,” said Campos about his 4-goal performance. “My teammates respect me and they fight for me as I do the same for them. It is a mutual feeling and that’s what makes a great environment to play in.”
Earlier in the week the Scorpions signed MLS veteran and goal machine Jeff Cunningham from his short stint in Guatemala. Cunningham comes into a squad with 32 points at the top of the table and will most likely provide additional scoring punch deep into the middle of the season.
On the prospect of Cunningham and Campos partnering in the offense, head coach Tim Hankinson said, “I do see Cunningham and Campos partnering up front, They’re slightly different types of players, it will take time for everyone to get to know each other. But Pablo has played against him, Blake (Wagner), Pitchkolan, Harmse have all played with him, Wes (Knight) has played against him. It’s not like he’s a guy coming from overseas that guys have never seen play before, so I think he will be embraced pretty quickly.”