Tobacco Road FC tops Carolina Dynamo 2-0 in Season Opener


BROWNS SUMMIT, NC- Two goals from Mustapha “Taff” Wadda were the difference maker as Tobacco Road FC tops Carolina Dynamo 2-0 in both team’s season opener on Saturday night in Browns Summit. 

“It went well,” Tobacco Road head coach Cedric Burke said. “Anytime you get a W the first game of the season, an away game, we’re extremely pleased. I thought that the boys were composed, most importantly they were accountable to each other. Everyone played hard, everyone played for their teammates.” 

Tobacco Road got on the board in the 12th minute after Mustapha Wadda pushed the ball past the Dynamo keeper to find the bottom corner of the net. Javier Alcarria found Wadda about 40 yards out and Wadda did the rest. He sprinted to the goal with the ball at his feet he cut back and forth to turn around the defender. After one last cut to his left about 12 yards out he hit a left-footed shot to slide the ball past the Dynamo’s keeper into the bottom right-hand corner. 

Los Toros controlled the game for the remainder of the half.  Burke’s 3-5-2 formation worked wonders as the wingbacks, Kellen Foster and Dylan Chain, were tirelessly getting up and back along the sides. This was exemplified when Foster pushed down the right side and served a cross into the box less than two minutes after clearing a ball off the goal line that was flicked to the back post on a Dynamo corner. 

Just before the break, Tobacco Road captain and center-back Alex Comsia came out with an injury causing Los Toros to rearrange. Foster took the role of center-back and stepped up to the challenge. 

“Couldn’t be more pleased because we played a lot of different guys out of position and everyone played well… Everyone did their job. I challenge everyone to do their job. If everyone wins their individual battle then we will win our collective battle.”

After the break more injuries hit as Tobacco Road was forced to shuffle players around the pitch. Due to the intense heat and the short preseason, both teams used nearly all their substitutions. 

Tobacco Road kept knocking, finding ways to create shots. A Champe through ball in the 52nd minute led Oscar Moreno on goal but a strong touch resulted in the Dynamo keeper swallowing it up. 

In the 70th minute Wadda found the back of the net again. Wadda received the ball in the box before doing a quick move to create space on his left foot and hit a beauty to the top right corner of the net to put Tobacco Road up 2-0. 

“Taff’s special,” Burke stated as he grinned. “I’ve been hearing about the legend of Taff for a couple months now and this is the first time everything has clicked. It will be a fun summer.”

Tobacco Road goalkeeper Ryan Cretens made a vital save in the 83rd minute to keep the Dynamo off the scoresheet. The Dynamo had a free kick that was whipped in and bounced awkwardly in front of Cretens. He parried it away but Dynamo players were rushing in. As a Dynamo player lunged for the shot Cretens sacrificed his body and dove in front of the shot to make the save.

Wadda had a beautiful chance to get the hat-trick on his Tobacco Road debut in the final minutes of the game. Fisher won the ball on the goal line on the edge of the box and drew two defenders before sliding it to Wadda at the six-yard box. Wadda blasted the chance over the bar. He immediately dropped and did five pushups as head coach Burke raised hand with five fingers up. 

“In training we’ve been doing finishing and I’ve missed quite a few so Coach tells me to do pushups when I miss so I felt like I had to get coach’s punishment for that miss,” explained Wadda.

Cretens recorded the shut-out in goal against his former club. Cretens played for the Carolina Dynamo the last two seasons. In 2016, Cretens was named 2016 PDL Goalkeeper of the Year while with the Dynamo. Walking into the stadium one of his former teammates said to him “We’re going to score on you, Ryan.” While this may have been friendly banter, Cretens wasn’t having it. 

“Ryan was a rock,” head coach Burke said. “When we first spoke in early January we talked about this game… This meant a lot of him. I’m happy for him. He’s a great leader and a great teammate. He will be a rock for us.”

Overall, Burke was pleased with his team’s performance in their first game of the year. 

“To start off with a win on the road against a storied franchise, couldn’t be happier.” 

Tobacco Road’s next appearance is at home against North Carolina FC U-23s. The match is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 17 at Durham County Memorial Stadium. Tickets can be purchased here: https://www.tobaccoroadfc.com/single-game-tickets/.