Legion FC Battles Miami FC to Draw
BIRMINGHAM, AL - Birmingham Legion FC played out a 0-0 draw with fellow Eastern Conference side Miami FC on Wednesday night at Protective Stadium. The draw was full of chances for both sides, but neither were able to capitalize and collect all three points.
Despite the scoreless draw, Legion FC especially created numerous dangerous chances, including midfielder Zach Herivaux hitting the cross bar late in the second half. Midfielder Anderson Asiedu led the team with three shots on the night, including one early in the first half that spun just over the bar and another in the second that was palmed over the bar.
Midfielder Enzo Martinez and forward Prosper Kasim also added two shots each, with Kasim breaking into the box right before second half stoppage time for a chance on goal, but the Miami 'keeper came up with the stop.
Legion FC goalkeeper Matt VanOekel earned his second shutout of the season by stepping up to make three big saves, and his defense was solid on the night, led by Martinez winning all six of his tackles, and defender Alex Crognale stepping back into the starting lineup and stepping up with five clearances.
Midfielder Mikey Lopez was also integral to the team's performance on the night, playing in the midfield and then at left back, while adding three tackles and completing 36 of 42 passes.
"It was definitely a grind, definitely a battle," said Lopez. "I think we had the clearer of the chances, and it's unfortunate that we weren't able to capitalize on those opportunities. But, it was a hard-fought point, and we'll take the points right now, so it is what it is -- it's a good point."
While understandably being disappointed in the missed opportunities, Head Coach Tommy Soehn was pleased with his team's effort and ability to keep the clean sheet, which was a goal of his heading into the game against a talented Miami team.
"I think we're starting to figure out our identity a little more," said Soehn. "I don't think we're as concerned about missing the chances as we were before because we've put some away now. There's going to be some days where you're just not scoring, but... let's be fair, [Miami FC] were a good team and they were organized. I think we got the better of them, unfortunately we came out with a point.
"Still, the shutout is important, that was our agenda to stop leaking goals. Matt [VanOekel] came up with a big save, as he should, and we walk away knowing that we grew again today, and we'll keep pushing the guys to get better and better."
BHM - 4-2-3-1 - #1 Matt VanOekel; #24 Jonny Dean, #21 Alex Crognale, #3 Phanuel Kavita, #7 Ryan James (46' - #20 Zach Herivaux); #5 Mikey Lopez, #6 Anderson Asiedu; #10 Prosper Kasim, #8 Bruno Lapa (82' - #13 Jake Rufe), #19 Enzo Martinez; #11 Marlon Santos (62' - #99 Juan Agudelo)
MIA - 4-2-3-1 - #24 Connor Sparrow; #96 Mark Segbers, #22 Ben Ofeimu, #5 Paco Craig © (90' - #18 Junior Palacios), #12 Aedan Stanley; #80 Speedy Williams, #21 Bolu Akinyode (82' - #14 Christian Sorto); #13 Lamar Walker (64' - #30 Adonijiah Reid), #10 Florian Valot, #7 Josh Perez (64' - #98 Pierre da Silva); #9 Kyle Murphy (64' - #27 Romeo Parkes)
The team travels to Pittsburgh this Saturday, May 7, to face the Riverhounds at 6:00pm CT. Watch the game on My68 or ESPN+, and follow @bhmlegion on Twitter for live updates.
The next home game is back at Protective Stadium on Wednesday, May 18, at 7:00pm against Las Vegas Lights! 'Everybody Wins on Wednesday' drink deals continue, so get your tickets HERE and contact the Legion FC Ticket Office with any questions.
Legion FC Quote Sheet - BHMvMIA - 5/4
Head Coach Tommy Soehn
Thought it was a pretty open game to finish 0-0, what do you think made it so difficult to break the deadlock tonight?
"We know they're an organized team after scouting them, and we knew it was going to be close. The faster you can open them up, the easier it gets, and I actually thought they got the better of us the first half. We made some adjustments and then I think the game opened up in our favor. We created a lot of really good looks, we just couldn't bury it. It's frustrating that way, but we also denied them pretty well. I feel good about getting a shutout, that was one of our objectives lately."
Can you still be happy about getting a point, or does the slow start to the season make it a little harder to settle for draws?
"Those are part of the game. I think you look at the performance as a whole and make sure you keep taking steps in the right direction. I'd love to say we're gonna win every game, but draws happen."
Agudelo is still coming off of the bench right now, is this still a fitness concern or do you feel the attacking lineup with Enzo up top was just playing well recently?
"He's getting his way back into fitness from his knee injury. He's also catching up fitness wise because he hasn't been here as long, that's going to be a project itself. There's a lot of different reasons, but we also trust in all of our guys."
The late sub to bring on Rufe for Lapa, a defender for a midfielder on paper, but a change of shape to affect the game. What went into that decision?
"We went to a 4-1-4-1 and wanted to really push the game, and Bruno had given us a long shift and he was struggling and he got whacked. Pushing Jonny higher, we felt like we could create more and Jonny got in plenty of times. Unfortunately, we didn't capitalize on it. I think the moves helped us in a lot of ways because we created a ton of chances, we just didn't put them away."
For me, we've seemingly for most of the season had pretty solid performances that haven't necessarily translated on paper. How do you feel the patterns of play and the team are coming together now about a quarter of the way into the season? Still early, but enough of a sample size for you to know how to feel about the team?
"I think we're starting to figure out our identity a little more. I don't think we're as concerned about missing the chances as we were before because we've put some away now. There's going to be some days where you're just not scoring, but I don't think it's one of those scenarios where it's every week, it's this week. Let's be fair, they were a good team and they were organized. I think we got the better of them, unfortunately we came out with a point. Still, the shutout is important, that was our agenda to stop leaking goals. Matt came up with a big save, as he should, and we walk away knowing that we grew again today and we'll keep pushing the guys to get better and better."
Midfielder Mikey Lopez
Pretty even game -- how do you feel about the teams performance?
It was definitely a grind, definitely a battle. I think we had the clearer of the chances, and it's unfortunate that we weren't able to capitalize on those opportunities, but it was a hard-fought point, and we'll take the points right now, so it is what it is -- it's a good point.
How do you feel the season is going so far?
We've definitely improved from the beginning of the year. We went through a run where we couldn't score and we weren't winning at home, so its definitely beneficial that we've had these past few good performances . We've got to keep building on these performances and keep adding points and keep the momentum going for the rest of the year.
How do y'all feel positioning is going?
We keep building chemistry as the season keeps going. We try to find our best XI but it's kind of a plug-and-play. We show good character, a lot of the players can play in different positions, and we keep having good performances. Obviously, we want to find our ideal XI, but we are good enough to play at different positions and we know that the team is strong enough regardless of where they play.
How has it been having Enzo, who previously was your opponent, on your team?
Enzo is definitely one of those players that's a pest if he's not on your team, but if he is on your team he's one of the best. I think the new guys have added a different dynamic to the team and we keep trying to build that chemistry. As long as we keep building that chemistry day-in-day-out I think we'll have a good run of the season.
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