The story of United’s 1-0 loss to Carolina on Saturday will be very familiar to the soccer team’s followers: It had much of the possession and the better chances to score, but couldn’t find the back of the net and lost thanks to a single good play from the opposition.
The RailHawks hadn’t won a road game in 2013 before Saturday, but all it took for them to win this one, in their final away game of the year, was a 25-yard strike from midfielder Enzo Martinez in the 52nd minute at the National Sports Center in Blaine.
“It was good to get one in before the season ended,” Carolina coach Colin Clarke said.
United, meanwhile, had chance after chance. Defenders Connor Tobin and Kevin Venegas both came close to scoring in the game’s first 10 minutes, and striker Mike Ambersley had a number of chances — all of which flashed inches wide of the net.
Ambersley, who has yet to score for United since coming over in a summer trade, described his frustration level as being extremely high. “You’ve got to finish the chances when you get them,” he said. “It would have changed the game. It’s been a frustrating year all around for me, but you can’t sulk.”
The loss was United’s third in a row, a stretch in which the team has scored only one goal — and that from a penalty spot.
“That’s where we are mentally right now; we’re not clinical,” coach Manny Lagos said.
“We’re getting to the right places, we just can’t finish,” said midfielder Miguel Ibarra, named the man of the match. “It’s frustrating, but we just have to keep going. Once we get the first one I think we’ll be good.“
The loss ended United’s slim hopes of a spot in the fall championship, and also guaranteed that it will finish with the worst home record in the league, with only one victory in six games.
Despite the loss and the shutout, though, most of the United players and coaches agreed they had played well. Lagos was happy with the way his team played, and happy with the team’s effort — just not with the final result.
“There’s no doubt about it, when you lose three games in a row, particularly at the end of a season, it’s disappointing,” Lagos said. “Particularly when you play well, it hurts even more.
“The reality is, this season, we have been very inconsistent in terms of attacking and scoring goals.”