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Herrera lifts Eagles in U.S. Open play

By Keith Cannon
Correspondent

Jorge Herrera likes playing in the U.S. Open Cup. The reasons why were obvious Wednesday night.

The veteran Charlotte Eagles forward scored twice and assisted on another goal, helping his team break open a close game against the Carolina Dynamo and take a 3-1 victory in a second-round Cup game at the Queens University Athletic Complex.

“It’s a big tournament and a chance to play against good teams,” Herrera said. “We’ve made it pretty far a couple of times, and it will help our team develop if we can do it again.”

Juan Guzman scored the other goal for Charlotte, which advanced to a third-round game against the Carolina RailHawks of the North American Soccer League on May 28 in Cary.

“We were consistent and we did the small things well, which is encouraging,” said Eagles assistant coach Steve Shak, who took over for the night. “It’s a fun tournament and we’re capable of doing really well in it.”

The visiting Dynamo, a Greensboro-based team in the Premier Development League – one classification below the USL Pro League, which the Eagles play in – gave Charlotte some spirited competition throughout.

The teams were stuck in a scoreless draw, interrupted only by Charlotte’s Drew Yates’ disallowed goal in the 22nd minute, until late in the first half. Guzman took a cross from Herrera and put Charlotte on top two minutes before the break.

“We wanted to try to impose ourselves on the game from the first whistle, but they made it difficult for us,” Shak said. “They defended well in the box. But our guys had good possession and speed of play, a positive mentality.”

Herrera scored an unassisted goal in the 55th minute to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead, but the visitors wouldn’t go away. Mamadee Nyepon scored for the Dynamo five minutes later to trim the lead to 2-1.

They kept good pressure on Eagles goalkeeper Brock Duckworth the rest of the way. But Herrera made a big play with three minutes left, intercepting a clearing attempt by a Dynamo defender in front of the Carolina goal and putting a left-footed volley into the back of the net from 15 yards out.

“He had a fantastic game,” Shak said. “He got his points, which is what you need your top players to do. The last goal was huge.”

The Eagles return to Pro League play at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday with a game at Orlando.

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