Legion FC Drops Final Home Match of the Regular Season
BIRMINGHAM, AL - Birmingham Legion FC fell in its final home match of the season on Saturday night, 2-1 versus Group G rivals North Carolina FC. BHM held on to first place in Group G after Memphis knocked off the Charlotte Independence, and still need one more point to clinch a spot in the 2020 USL Championship playoffs.
North Carolina struck first, in the 7th minute of the match. An NCFC corner kick was not quite cleared, midfielder Ben Speas swung it back into the far post, and forward Manny Perez volleyed it in the back of the net.
NCFC grabbed their second on the evening in the 26th minute, courtesy of a Dre Fortune penalty kick, after an NCFC player went down right on the edge of the box.
Birmingham Legion FC fought back and created multiple chances in the second half that could have proven to be the equalizer. The team's lone goal came off the foot of midfielder Jaden Servania, who expertly redirected a Bruno Lapa cross past the NCFC 'keeper in the 67th minute.
"We started off slow, but in the second half we came out ready to play," said Legion FC midfielder Jaden Servania. "I was fortunate to get out there and score. We got going, but next time we have to come out quicker and be ready to play."
[Next week at Memphis] we have to do the same thing we've been doing all year, come in and take care of business. Everyone's hungry and ready to get back at it."
"I don't know why we started so flat," said Legion FC Assistant Coach Khano Smith. "We'll have to figure that out, why we just didn't start well. I think we started growing into the game after we went down 2-0, and sometimes at this level that's too late. So, I think we need to start better. Going to Memphis, they've got nothing to lose, and they did us a favor tonight and beat Charlotte, so that means we still control our own destiny, so we've got to quickly forget about this one, figure out why we're starting so slow, and take care of business in Memphis."
1st Half 2nd Half
BHM 0 1
NC 2 0
NC - 7' - #2 Manny Perez (assisted by #17 Ben Speas)
NC - 26' - #8 Dre Fortune (P)
BHM - 67' - #17 Jaden Servania (assisted by #8 Bruno Lapa)
BHM - #1 Matt VanOekel ©; #5 Mikey Lopez, #21 Alex Crognale, #3 Bolu Akinyode (88' - #7 Brian Wright), #30 Razak Cromwell (37' - #6 Anderson Asiedu); #24 Jonny Dean, #12 Eli Crognale (63' - #17 Jaden Servania); #10 Prosper Kasim, #8 Bruno Lapa, #9 JJ Williams; #11 Neco Brett
NC - #24 Paolo Pita; #27 DJ Taylor, #4 Alex Comsia, #20 Conor Donovan, #30 Akeem Ward; #16 Graham Smith, #7 Pecka, #8 Andre Fortune (83' - #5 Sam Brotherton); #17 Ben Speas (64' - #92 Hadji Barry), #2 Manny Perez (83' - #21 Daniele Proch), #9 Marios Lomis (72' - #11 Robbie Kristo)
The last match of the regular season is scheduled for Saturday, October 3 vs. Memphis 901FC. For live match updates, follow @bhmlegion on Twitter, or tune in as the match will air live on My68 and ESPN+.
Legion FC Assistant Coach Khano Smith
Coach you're down tonight, but definitely not out of the playoffs. Heading to Memphis next weekend what are you going to take away from this match?
"I don't know why we started so flat. We'll have to figure that out, why we just didn't start well. I think we started growing into the game after we went down 2-0, and sometimes at this level that's too late. So, I think we need to start better. Going to Memphis, they've got nothing to lose, and they did us a favor tonight and beat Charlotte, so that means we still control our own destiny, so we've got to quickly forget about this one, figure out why we're starting so slow, and take care of business in Memphis."
Besides a slow start, what was the biggest difference in your attack from putting up four goals at Miami last game to tonight?
"Honestly, I thought what led to being such a successful attack, I know we scored four goals, but it was how we were solid defensively and we didn't give Miami any time on the ball. We turned us winning the ball into dangerous attacks. I don't think we did that tonight in the first half, and they enjoyed too much of the ball when they went up 2-0 and we started playing, but at this level sometimes it's too late."
Neco [Brett] told us this week 'if we don't make the playoff its like we didn't even have a season.' How bad does this team want it and what kind of grit have you seen from this team over the last couple of weeks?
"Honestly, I'm not thinking about not getting in, I think we get in. Obviously, it would really hurt if we don't, but I think we're going to get in. We've got another opportunity, [North Carolina] still has to play Charlotte so that's got to pan out some way, and we just have to take care of business in Memphis."
#17 Jaden ServaniaJaden, you got to come out in the second half and scored a nice goal. We were really pushing for the equalizer there at the end, how do you think you played, and the team played, trying to tie the game?
"We started off slow, but in the second half we came out ready to play and I was fortunate to get out there and score. We got going, but next time we have to come out quicker and be ready to play."
One regular season game left at Memphis next weekend and then playoffs. We hadn't quite clinched yet, but what does the team need to do next weekend to get ready to compete in the playoffs?
"We have to do the same thing we've been doing all year, come in and take care of business. Everyone's hungry and ready to get back at it."
• Discuss this story on the United Soccer League Championship message board...
United Soccer League Championship Stories from September 26, 2020
- FC Tulsa Upsets San Antonio FC on Eric Bird's Stoppage Time Winner - FC Tulsa
- LouCity Locks up No. 1 Playoff Seed with Win over Saint Louis - Louisville City FC
- STLFC Falls 1-0 to Louisville City FC - Saint Louis FC
- Legion FC Drops Final Home Match of the Regular Season - Birmingham Legion FC
- Hounds Fall to Hartford, 1-0 - Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
- San Antonio FC Falls 0-1 on the Road to FC Tulsa - San Antonio FC
- Real Monarchs Draws 1-1 with Colorado Springs - Real Monarchs SLC
- Top Dogs: Hartford Down Pittsburgh 1-0 - Hartford Athletic
- Charlotte Independence Falls to Memphis 901 FC 3-1 - Charlotte Independence
- Goals from Perez and Fortune Lead NCFC to Victory - North Carolina FC
- 901 FC Defeats Charlotte & Wins Fans Free Chick-fil-A - Memphis 901 FC
- 10-Man Red Bulls II Win Wild 5-4 Shootout - New York Red Bulls II
- Philadelphia Union II Edged by Red Bulls II 5-4 - Philadelphia Union II
- Rising hosts Orange County tonight at 7:30 PM on CW61 Arizona & ESPN+ - Phoenix Rising FC
- LA Galaxy II Release Omar Ontiveros - LA Galaxy II
- STLvLOU: Match Preview - Saint Louis FC
- Game Day: Follow Along with LouCity-Saint Louis FC - Louisville City FC
- Orange County Face Phoenix Rising for Crucial Match - Orange County SC
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.
Other Recent Birmingham Legion FC Stories
- Legion FC Signs 2020 Golden Boot Winner Junior Flemmings
- Legion FC Signs Defender Phanuel Kavita
- Legion FC Announces First New Offseason Signing, Defender Ryan James
- Legion FC Announces Year-End Roster Updates
- Bruno Lapa Signs New Multi-Year Deal with Legion FC