The annual Carolina Challenge Cup opened up with two goal-fests on Saturday night at Blackbaud Stadium:
CHICAGO FIRE 3, HOUSTON DYNAMO 2
The Chicago Fire showed off its arsenal of attacking weapons on Saturday night in a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Houston Dynamo.
The Dynamo went ahead on a 15th minute set-piece play converted by Adam Moffat. Veteran midfielder Brad Davis touched the ball to Moffat with his heel and the Scotsman blasted the ball through the Fire wall and into the back of the net.
But the Fire response was swift as designated player Sherjill MacDonald (24th minute) and newly acquired winger Dilly Duka (27th minute) putting Chicago ahead in a span of four minutes.
The Fire took that 2-1 lead into the break after a first half that was marred by two injuries to key players for both sides. Chicago left back Gonzalo Segares (ankle) and Houston central midfielder Ricardo Clark (left knee contusion) were both early subs after picking up knocks.
Jeff Larentowicz's seamless transition into the Fire lineup continued after a header goal off a corner kick just three minutes into the second half, extending the Fire's lead to 3-1.
Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson had work to do to preserve the lead with his best work coming on a Giles Barnes screamer that he tipped away for a corner. However, on the ensuring corner kick taken by Davis, Houston forward Cam Weaver headed home in the 64th minute to reduce the Dynamo's deficit to 3-2.
On the other end, Johnson's counterpart and USMNT January camp teammate, Tally Hall, came up with an equally impressive save on a Maicon Santos penalty kick after Yazid Atouba was tripped by by Houston defender Eric Brunner.
CHARLESTON BATTERY 2, VANCOUVER WHITECAPS 3
Kekuta Manneh (above) may only be 18 years old, but he keeps earning preseason starts for Vancouver and on Saturday night he scored his first two goals in a Whitecaps jersey to pace his team to a 3-2 over the Charleston Battery at Blackbaud Stadium.
WATCH: Rennie's postgame reactions
After Manneh had a goal called back for offside in the second minute, the No. 4 overall SuperDraft selection made no mistake seconds later, as the Whitecaps rushed the Battery goal to open their account.
Manneh could have had another after 22 minutes only to be foiled by Charleston's 'keeper. But he would not be denied five minutes later latching onto a ball from forward Darren Mattocks.
Charleston continued to struggle in attack and Vancouver added a third in spectacular fashion six minutes after the break. Y.P. Lee delivered the cross and Daigo Kobayashi applied a karate chop volley strike to send the Whitecaps cruising.
But the Battery mounted a furious finish. First Nicki Patterson capped a sensational team maneuver in the 71st minute and then Dane Kelly scored on a spectacular solo effort with 10 minutes left. But the home team could not convert on its half-chances in the waning minutes to equalize.