The Minnesota Stars have found ways to exploit the Carolina RailHawks weaknesses this season. Even at WakeMed Soccer Park, where Carolina has been dominant, the RailHawks couldn't separate themselves from the Stars. Yes, a 1-1 tie Wednesday night was better than the RailHawks' last two performances on the road. But none of the RailHawks were satisfied after this one, especially since the team surrendered its lead seven minutes after obtaining it.
In his first home match since being named the coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS in 2012, Martin Rennie wasn't impressed with his lineup that he continues to tinker with.
"We had enough chances to win the game and we didn't take them," Rennie said. "For us to win the championship we have to get much better toward the end of the season and there's definitely a lot of room to do that."
The tie ended a nine-match home winning streak for the RailHawks, and it was the third time Carolina failed to beat Minnesota this season.
"We've had chances to win all three games," Rennie said. "We've given away bad goals at bad moments."
Ever since former captain Brad Rusin was transferred overseas, the RailHawks have struggled to keep opponents out of the net, which has resulted in a 2-4-1 record since early July. Minnesota started the match by putting a shot on goal in the second minute and continued to apply pressure throughout.
Forward Pablo Campos scored in the 48th minute on a long pass from forward Johnny Steele. Campos controlled the ball in the air with a soft touch from his right foot. Once Campos landed a few feet in front of the net, he was still able to use his right foot to shoot the ball under a diving Joe Warren in goal for Minnesota.
"It's a tough angle because the goalie is so big," defender Tony McManus said. "There's so little space to shoot at that it's a very technical shot and he did a fantastic job to get the shoot off."
McManus, who signed with the RailHawks on Friday, was hoping to help team on defense. Although he'd had retired in May, the RailHawks have started McManus the last two matches.
As it turns out there were still issues. Rennie said he expects the RailHawks (14-3-4) to likely add another player to roster in a few weeks, though he didn't say if the acquisition would be focused on defense. Minnesota (7-8-6) was able to score in the 55th minute on a rather easy goal by midfielder Lucas Rodriguez.
He was able to sneak past the RailHawks because everyone was looking at Minnesota forward Simone Bracalello, who had the ball and space in front of the penalty box. Bracalello placed a perfect pass to Rodriguez for the goal.
"We probably had some miscommunication and the guy gets open," McManus said. "It's something that we should never give up. We should be able to commutate with one another, but if we want to get three points we have to be sharper."