Charlotte Independence v Birmingham Legion FC: Match Preview
CHARLOTTE - The Charlotte Independence face Birmingham Legion FC at BBVA Compass Field on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m. ET and broadcast live on ESPN+. The meeting will be the fourth and final matchup this season for the Group G opponents.
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"Legion FC has been a very difficult matchup for us this year," said Independence Manager Mike Jeffries. "When you see a team as many times as we have with Birmingham in such a short period of time, the little tweaks that both teams make make a huge difference."
"We managed to adjust very well in our first home game with them and were able to find ways of breaking them down but we know we need to be better tomorrow night."
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The Independence currently sit in second place in the Group G standings after earning six points last week in wins over Memphis 901 FC and North Carolina FC. Eight different Jacks have tallied a goal or an assist while goalkeeper Brandon Miller ranks first in the USL in saves (48) and forward Dane Kelly ranks third in goals (8).
For their performances, Kelly and Miller were both named to the USL Championship's Week 11 Team of the Week. The Championship's all-time leading scorer, Kelly also earned Player of the Week honors after his hat trick led the Independence to a 3-1 victory against North Carolina FC on Saturday night. The Jamaican international has now recorded four regular season hat tricks in his career, also a league record.
In their last match, Legion FC earned one point in a 1-1 draw against Memphis 901 FC on Wednesday evening thanks to Bruno Lapa converting from the spot in the second half. Tommy Soehn's side currently sit in first place in the Group G standings, four points ahead of the Jacks.
"We must deal with their pace and athleticism up front that has caused us so much trouble in the previous three games," continued Jeffries. "We know we need to be better managing that and managing them on the counter."
"We do feel like we can possess and move the ball against them but we have to find ways that we can be cleaner in the final third and create more chances."
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LAST TIME THEY MET: Charlotte and Birmingham most recently met last month on Saturday, August 29 at the Sportsplex at Matthews in Matthews, N.C. The Charlotte Independence fell 4-1 to Legion FC in its ninth match of the 2020 USL Championship season.
LAST MATCH: In the eighth meeting of Charlotte Independence-North Carolina FC in USL Championship play, the Independence claimed its fifth win of the season with a 3-1 triumph over North Carolina FC as forward Dane Kelly recorded a hat trick at the Sportsplex at Matthews.
The Independence surged into a two-goal lead inside the opening 20 minutes at the Sportsplex at Matthews, courtesy of two clinical finishes by Kelly.
In the second half, Kelly completed his hat trick in the 79th minute and sealed a second all-time victory over North Carolina FC for the Jacks.
SERIES HISTORY (W-L-D) Independence Record vs. Birmingham Legion FC: (1-2-2) Independence Home Record vs. Birmingham Legion FC: (1-1-1) Independence Away Record vs. Birmingham Legion FC: (0-1-1)
Leading Scorer(s): Dane Kelly (8)
Assist Leader(s): Joel Johnson (3)
Goals Per Game: 1.63
Saves Per Game: 4.36
Goals Against Average: 1.6
Shots on Target Per Game: 4.45
BIRMINGHAM LEGION FC
Leading Scorer(s): Brett, Lapa (6)
Assist Leader(s): Jonathan Dean (4)
Goals Per Game: 1.83
Saves Per Game: 2.83
Goals Against Average: 0.9
Shots on Target Per Game: 4.83
2020 CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE USL CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS: Lucas Hatsios, Brandon Miller, Austin Pack
DEFENDERS: Owen Barber, Clay Dimick, Shalom Dutey, Duke Lacroix, Aaron Maund, Dylan Mitchiner, Joel Johnson, Hugh Roberts, Joey Skinner
MIDFIELDERS: Jake Areman, Junior Etou, Derek Gebhard, Kevan George, Luke Haakenson, Rey Ortiz, Valentin Sabella, Oscar Ramsay
FORWARDS: Christian Chaney, Enzo Martinez, Tresor Mbuyu, Dane Kelly, Guido Valada
2020 BIRMINGHAM LEGION FC USL CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS: Ford Parker, Trevor Spangenberg, Matt Vanoekel
DEFENDERS: Josh Bauer, Alex Crognale, Razak Cromwell, Jonathan Dean, Mathieu Laurent, Jake Rufe
MIDFIELDERS: Boluwatife Akinyode, Anderson Asiedu, Eli Crognale, Daigo Kobayashi, Bruno Lapa, Mikey Lopez, Braxton Najib, Jaden Servania, Marcos Ugarte
FORWARDS: Neco Brett, Propser Kasim, Rudolf Mensah, Brian Wright, JJ Williams
- Seven players have scored for the Independence in the 2020 USL Championship: Dane Kelly (8), Luke Haakenson (3), Enzo Martinez (2), Jake Areman, Derek Gebhard, Rey Ortiz, Valentin Sabella (1)
- Eight players have recorded at least one assist for the Independence this year: Joel Johnson (3), Aaron Maund, Haakenson, (2), Areman, Gebhard, Kelly, Martinez, Sabella (1)
- Six players have recorded a goal and an assist for the Jacks this season: Areman, Gebhard, Haakenson, Martinez, Kelly, Sabella
- With an appearance last week against Memphis 901 FC, Independence forward Dane Kelly reached 200 career USL appearances.
- Kelly became the first player in USL Championship history to score 80 career league goals. Kelly, who scored his 80th USL goal in a 1-1 draw against Legion FC, leads the Jacks in goals this season with four.
- Independence goalkeeper Brandon Miller's 48 saves is ranked first in the USL Championship Eastern Conference this season.
- Against The Miami FC, Miller became only the second goalkeeper to post two outings this season with 8+ saves. Miller recorded eight saves against Miami having previously recorded nine saves against Sporting Kansas City II on March 8 to start the season.
- Independence defender Hugh Roberts reached 12,500 regular-season minutes in last Wednesday's match against Memphis 901 FC.
- Martinez, Miller, Roberts, and Duke Lacroix are the only players to play all 990 minutes for the Jacks this season thus far.
ABOUT THE CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE: The Charlotte Independence professional soccer team joined the United Soccer League (USL) Championship as an expansion team in September 2014. An ownership group led by Jim McPhilliamy, the President & Managing Partner of Major League Lacrosse's Charlotte Hounds, acquired the USL franchise rights from the Charlotte Eagles. McPhilliamy and his investment group founded Queen City Sports Club with the goal of making Charlotte a better place to live through annual increases in both the quality and quantity of events that are provided for the community.
In the fall of 2018, Queen City Sports Club and the Charlotte Independence signed a 10-year lease to move to American Legion Memorial Stadium following a revitalization of the historic landmark set for the spring of 2021.
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