Legion FC Battles to the End in 1-0 Loss in Eastern Conference Semifinal
St. Petersburg, FL - Birmingham Legion FC lost 1-0 on the road against the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the Eastern Conference Semifinal. Tampa Bay's Yann Ekra found the winner for his side in the 57th minute, slotting it home in the bottom left corner to push his side to the Eastern Conference Final.
The first half saw both sides looking to take an early lead, with the hosts forcing the Black & Gold to make several goal line clearances around the six minute mark. Legion FC had dangerous moments of its own, breaking nicely on the counterattack to threaten the Rowdies backline at points throughout the first half. The contest proved to be a battle throughout, as the Rowdies found it difficult to break down a well organized BHM.
"We wanted to make it hard for them," said Legion FC Head Coach Tom Soehn. "I think in a lot of ways we congested the areas they felt comfortable attacking in. It was really the one play where they were able to break us down and we got caught in the attack, and they punished us for it. We took some chances going forward, but it's disappointing in the fact that I think we had a solid game plan and the guys carried it out. It just takes one play to hurt you, and they hurt us they're a good team. All the best to them going forward, I hope they represent the East well. I know we put them right to the wire."
Legion FC would not be deterred, though, pushing for an equalizer and ensuring the hosts did not stretch their lead. Defender Alex Crognale came closest to leveling the score for his side on a corner kick, rising over his defender to meet the ball and direct it toward goal - unfortunately, Rowdies goalkeeper Evan Louro was there to collect.
Despite the result, Legion FC showcased grit against the number one overall seed in the USL Championship playoffs, a sign of the togetherness within the group that has helped them throughout the season.
"The word selflessness comes to mind," said Soehn. "This group has been supportive of each other in every way. It's a deep team, guys came in and out of the lineup and were supportive of each other and that's not always easy to do. I thank them for that. It was a great season and a great team to coach."
The Three Sparks welcome several key newcomers prior to the start of the season, with defender Ryan James one of the club's new signings heading into the 2021 USLC season. While James and his teammates came up short against Tampa Bay, the outlook is still positive after his first season with BHM.
"It's been awesome," said James. "Very welcoming from the staff, to the players, to the fans, and to everyone in the city that comes to the games. That definitely helps you perform at a high level game in and game out, especially at a high level. I've had an amazing experience, and I'm excited to come back next year and fix some of the things we can fix and come back to this postseason spot and get a win."
1st Half 2nd Half
TBR 0 1
BHM 0 0
BHM - 4-3-3 - #1 Matt VanOekel; #5 Mikey Lopez (Subbed out by #27 Thomas Vancaeyezeele in the 75'), #3 Phanuel Kavita ©, #21 Alex Crognale, #24 Jonny Dean; #6 Anderson Asiedu (Subbed out by #12 Eli Crognale in the 86'), #8 Bruno Lapa , #20 Zach Herivaux; #10 Prosper Kasim (Subbed out by #7 Ryan James in the 63'), #11 Neco Brett, #23 JJ Williams
TBR - 3-4-3 - #1 Evan Louro; #33 Aaron Guillen, #3 Forrest Lasso, #5 Jordan Scarlett; #11 Leo Fernandes, #27 Laurence Wyke, #4 Lewis Hilton, #2 Conner Antley; #9 Juan Tejada (Subbed out by #23 Sebastian Dalgaard in the 75'), #13 Sebastian Guenzatti ©, #7 Yann Ekra (Subbed out by #20 Jordan Doherty in the 86')
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United Soccer League Championship Stories from November 13, 2021
- RGV FC Fall to San Antonio in Semifinal Matchup - Rio Grande Valley FC Toros
- Legion FC Battles to the End in 1-0 Loss in Eastern Conference Semifinal - Birmingham Legion FC
- Rowdies Best Birmingham, Advance to Second Straight Eastern Conference Final - Tampa Bay Rowdies
- Lancaster Converts Late, Sends LouCity on to Eastern Conference Final - Louisville City FC
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