Match Preview: Legion FC V. Swope Park Rangers
Birmingham Legion FC vs. Swope Park Rangers
Saturday, April 20 - 4:00PM Kickoff - BBVA Compass Field, Birmingham, AL
Stream - My68, ESPN+
Legion FC return home to Birmingham and BBVA Compass Field for a match up against Swope Park Rangers on Saturday, April 20 at 4:00PM CT. While Legion FC have won two matches in a row and scored a combined six goals in the two victories, the team is still searching for its first goal and points in front of the home fans.
Depth in the attack took a hit this week as forwards Brian Wright and JJ Williams were both recalled by their MLS clubs. When asked about their departure and what it meant for the formation and style of play fans will see on the field this Saturday, Head Coach Tommy Soehn seemed confident in the 'next man up' and his squad's ability to adapt and adjust week to week.
"I think what I give the guys is the flexibility to adapt on the field. Knowing what [Swope Park Rangers] are doing we may adjust our pressure a little bit, you know when they're in possession, but I think ultimately playing a free flowing style - giving [#14] Daniel [Johnson] the freedom to penetrate different lanes and [#21] Zach [Herivaux] covers a lot of ground - that's what makes the game beautiful. With our backs attacking, you know [#33] Kyle [Culbertson] getting involved, [#12 Eric] Avi [Avila] getting involved, even though we call it a 4-3-3 when we start, it sure looks like a different formation every five minutes, and that's what's fun about the game."
The Swope Park Rangers have gotten off to slow start in 2019, as they sit 17th in the USL Championship Eastern Conference standings with one point after four matches. However, the lack of points does not correlate to a lack of talent. SPR are a young, athletic team that can possess the ball and have managed to score seven goals already this season without being held scoreless in a game.
"They kind of look for their 4-1-4-1 formation, and every game you see them growing," said Soehn. "They're a young team. They have a lot of young guys, and every game they play you see their confidence grow as far as maintaining the ball. I know Paulo quite well - he's about possession and making sure the game is pretty on the eye and effective. Every game they play I feel like they graduate a little bit further, so we have to respect what they do. We also look at them and know that there are some weaknesses that we need to exploit, and it's going to be up to us to put a game plan together that does that."
Among the several promising Sporting KC Academy products are midfielders Felipe Hernandez and Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal, forwards Harris and Sean Karani, and goalkeepers Brooks Thompson and Max Trejo. Other bright spots thus far have been 20-year-old left back Alexsander (assisted Harris' goal on Monday) and French winger Killian Colombie, who has two assists and has shown inventiveness down the left.
Marcel Appiah will miss his fourth game in a row with a calf strain, but everyone else on the Legion FC roster is healthy and ready to go.
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