USA Tour: Focus on North Carolina

22nd July 2017
Pre-season

USA TOUR: Away days – North Carolina

North Carolina v Swansea City

Wakemed Soccer Park, Saturday, July 22, 7.30pm (US time)

Address: 201 Soccer Park Drive, Cary NC 27511.

Telephone: 001 919 459 8144

Website: North Carolina

The opposition

North Carolina currently play in the North American Soccer League (NASL) - the second tier of the American Soccer Pyramid.

They are fifth in the table, having won six of their 16 games so far.

The team has been successful in recent years with play-off appearances in five of their first eight years. They also perform well in the US Open Cup, with wins over Chivas USA and LA Galaxy.

Last December, the team changed its name from Carolina Railhawks along with plans - including a new stadium - for a Major League Soccer franchise.

The gaffer

Former Southampton and Portsmouth striker Colin Clarke is the current head coach.

Clarke, who played for Northern Ireland in the World Cup in 1986, has been in charge of North Carolina for six years.

Richmond Kickers, FC Dallas and Puerto Rico are just some of the teams has has previously managed.

What's the stadium like?

The stadium seats 10,000 people on 150 acres on the eastern edge of Cary.

Tickets for the game are priced between $79 and $209 and are available here.

How to get there

Directions and parking

From Interstate 40 Eastbound (From Chapel Hill, Durham)

◦Take the Cary 54 exit (exit 290) off Interstate 40.

◦Turn right at the top of the exit ramp, heading toward Cary.

◦Turn left onto Southeast Maynard Road.

◦Take a left on Chatham Street after crossing the railroad tracks.

◦WakeMed Soccer Park is 0.5 mile on the right.

From Interstate 40 Westbound (from Fayetteville, Wilmington)

◦Take exit 291.

◦Turn right onto Cary Town Boulevard.

◦Turn right onto Southeast Maynard Road.

◦Turn right onto East Chatham Street.

◦WakeMed Soccer Park will be 0.5 mile on the right.

From Downtown Cary

◦Head east on Chatham Street toward Raleigh.

◦WakeMed Soccer Park will be on the right.

From Raleigh/Beltline

◦From the Beltline, take the Western Boulevard exit and head west toward Cary.

◦Continue after the merger with Hillsborough Street until the road becomes East Chatham Street.

◦WakeMed Soccer Park will be on the left.

The club offer free bus pick-ups on the Red & Blue Express, with limo-style seating, free Lonerider beer and soft drinks using priority lanes in and out of the stadium. To claim the free travel tickets, get them early from participating bars:

Carolina Ale House 500 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh NC 27603 (departure 5.30pm)

London Bridge Pub 110 East Hargett, Raleigh NC 27601 (departure 5.45pm)

Bull McCabes 427 West Main Street, Durham NC 27701 (departure 5.40pm)

Brightleaf Square 905 West Main Street, Durham NC 27701 (departure 5.50pm)

Refreshments

The food is a cut above other stadiums, but expect to pay more. There’s a Backyard Bistro stand. You can order a la carte for around $6 or regular stadium food for $9. Soft drinks are available around the stadium for $3. A large selection of craft beer is sold on the east side of the stadium for $7.

The biggest issue with the stadium is its location. There's not a lot within walking distance, and almost everything in the area closes at 10pm or earlier. Exceptions are the bars listed for the Red & Blue Express.

There are a few chain restaurants like Subway (27601) and a Bojangles (27601) in the immediate area and the nearby mall. Ole Time Barbeque (27606) is right down the road from the stadium, but you'll need to get there early.

Downtown Raleigh is a short drive and is known as a foodie town. The Pit (27601) serves local BBQ. Tobacco Road Sports Cafe (27701) is one of the best sports bars in the area.

Tailgating

In America, tailgating isn't driving too close to the driver in front - it's a sports/eating/drinking experience! Basically, park up and get the food and refreshments out of the car and have a picnic in the car park (or parking lot).

It's not a minor thing, more so a huge social event with people sharing food and drinks, even cooking food on portable BBQ units.

Visiting North Carolina

The nearest airport is Raleigh-Durham International. Direct flights are eight hours from Heathrow. North Carolina is a south-eastern US state that goes from the Atlantic Ocean beaches to the Appalachian Mountains.

Museums such as the NASCAR Hall of Fame are in Charlotte. The state motto (‘First in Flight’) honours the Wright Brothers, who flew their first plane in Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks, barrier islands lined with popular beaches. For more information go to https://uk.visitnc.com/

Sports teams and venues

Carolina Panthers (NFL)

Charlotte Hornets (NBA)

Carolina Hurricanes (NHL)

North Carolina FC (NASL)

Did you know?

North Carolina set a US Open Cup record in 2016.

Their third round tie against Charlotte Independence ended scoreless after 90 minutes.

North Carolina would eventually win 5-0, thus setting a tournament record for the most goals scored by a single team in extra-time.

In the same year, West Ham became the first Premier League team to visit the Triangle region of North Carolina when they visited WakeMed Soccer Park. The game ended in a 2-2 draw in front of a record-breaking crowd of 10,125.