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 Hartford Athletic

Hartford Host Birmingham in Home Opener

March 22, 2024 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Hartford Athletic News Release


Date: Saturday, March 23rd, 2024

Time: 2:00 PM ET

Location: Trinity Health Stadium, Hartford, Connecticut

Tickets: HERE

Streaming: MyTV9, WTNH.com, or ESPN+

HARTFORD ATHLETIC (1-0-0) vs BIRMINGHAM LEGION FC (1-0-0)

Coming off a season opening win at El Paso two weeks ago, Hartford Athletic play their home opener tomorrow afternoon against Birmingham Legion FC.

LAST TIME OUT

Hartford Athletic are coming off a 1-0 victory at El Paso Locomotive FC on Saturday, March 9th, taking a victory into their bye week. The lone goal came from Romario Williams on an early penalty kick in the 13th minute. Williams was the one who drew the penalty himself, drawing contact in the box from El Paso's Bolu Akinyode. Hartford defense remained steady through the rest of the game, and held on for the 1-0 victory.

KEEPING IT CLEAN

Hartford Athletic started the season off with a clean sheet in their 1-0 victory over El Paso, a positive start for a team that led the league in goals conceded a season ago. The defensive effort was led by Thomas Vancaeyezeele, who booted six clearances and swiped two interceptions from the back line. It's an excellent return to USL Championship play for Vancaeyezeele, making an impact in his first game back in the league since 2022.

MATCHUP HISTORY

Hartford Athletic are 1-4-1 against Birmingham Legion all-time. Of those six matches, four of them have been decided by just one goal. In 2022, it was Anderson Asiedu who headed in a game-winning goal in stoppage time to beat Hartford in Birmingham 1-0. Now, Asiedu dons green and glue in his first matchup against his former club. Earlier this week, Brendan Burke said, "There's a lot of MLS quality talent in their group. A lot of guys who have played in the league and come down. They're solid in every position and they're an experienced group, well-coached, disciplined in their defensive shape... You need things to break your way [when playing against them], and you need to be pragmatic about how you approach them. You can't expose yourself too much."

HOME, SWEET HOME

Hartford Athletic are 2-2-1 all-time in home opening matches, their last victory coming in 2020 over Loudoun United. Coach Burke said this week: "I hope people turn out... I just can't wait for home fans to see [this] group. I think it's unlike one that Hartford's ever seen.

MICHEE SAYS HELLO

Michee Ngalina was a headline signing for Hartford Athletic this offseason, and he made an impact almost immediately for his new team. Despite not scoring a goal, the winger largely had his way in the El Paso attacking third two weeks ago. He fired off four shots, put two on target, and one that hit the post. He got loose multiple times in the final third, and created Hartford's best chance of the second half on a cross that led to a shot on goal from Enoch Mushagalusa. The 23 year old gave a promising preview of what he is capable of in Hartford this year.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Hartford Athletic: Jay Chapman, MF #8

Jay Chapman was a difference-maker for Hartford from the midfield against El Paso. He did well to connect with his forwards and he was effective in getting the ball into opportunistic areas in El Paso's half. He led the team with 24 passes in the final third, including a quality ball into the box that allowed Romario Williams to draw the decisive penalty. Chapman is a part of a veteran midfield on Hartford's roster, joined by Anderson Asiedu, Marlon Hairston, and Danny Barrera, all players with extensive careers in either the USL Championship or MLS.

Birmingham Legion: Enzo Martinez, MF #19

Enzo Martinez has put together an excellent career in the USL Championship, scoring the 8th most goals in the history of the league (69) across six seasons and earned Second-Team All-League honors a season ago. He's had a knack for burning Hartford Athletic in recent years, scoring goals in key moments. A season ago, he recorded a brace and the game winning assist in a 3-2 victory over Athletic, and he netted the game-winning goal in stoppage time of a tight battle at Trinity Health Stadium in July of 2022 to raise Hartford.

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