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Match Preview: Legion FC vs. Atlanta United 2 - Saturday, August 8

August 7, 2020 - United Soccer League Championship (USL) - Birmingham Legion FC News Release

Legion FC returned to its winning ways in emphatic fashion with a 4-1 victory over the Charlotte Independence on Wednesday. The win comes ahead of Saturday's contest with Atlanta United 2, an opponent the Black and Gold have fared well against in the past.

In 2019, Birmingham won both matches against the Five Stripes by a combined score of 9-0, and while this history between the two sides does not seem to bode well for Atlanta United 2, the team has come out this season with more of an identity and cohesion than it showed last season thanks to less turnover with guys on Atlanta United's MLS roster. The side currently sits in third place in Group H after only earning five points in six matches, and Atlanta's only victory so far this season came in the form of a seven-goal thriller against Miami FC. Goals from Amadou Diop, Jackson Conway, and David Mejia secured the 4-3 victory for United 2 after they had fallen behind twice in the first half.

Diop, Conway, and Mejia are just a few of the names that make up a very young roster. The average age of United 2's starting XI this season has been 20.7 years old, with the largest outlier being 15-year-old Caleb Wiley, who started for ATL 2 in their 1-1 draw against the Charleston Battery on Wednesday. The aforementioned Diop, Conway, and Mejia are joined by the likes of Phillip Goodrum (two assists, ten shots) and Jack Gurr (two assists, 13 chances created) to create an exciting, young attacking side.

"One thing I can say for sure is, they have a better understanding or identity [this year]," said Legion FC Head Coach Tommy Soehn. "They are growing as a unit, so I don't expect it to be like it was last year - I think it will be a lot more difficult. Watching them play, they have a much better understanding, they're running set pieces because they have the same crew together each week so they can work on stuff like that, and, to be fair, I think they're way more athletic than they were. We're expecting a tough match."

One of the largest knocks to Atlanta, though, is their defensive fragility. Despite United 2 'keeper Ben Lundgaard totaling 18 saves so far this season, good enough for fourth most in the USL Championship, ATL2 is third in the league in goals conceded with 12. In addition to their weaknesses at the back, the Five Stripes' lack of experience paired with youthful energy has led to racking up the third most fouls conceded in the league, at 82.

For Legion FC, it is the likes of forwards Neco Brett and Brian Wright, midfielder Bruno Lapa, and defender Jonathan Dean that will be itching to capitalize on those set piece opportunities and pounce on any mistakes made by the inexperienced visitors. All four of these players were directly involved in each of Birmingham's four goals against Charlotte. Jonny Dean's efforts on both sides of the ball earned him Man of the Match honors, while Neco Brett opened his Legion FC account with two fantastic goals.

Quick turnarounds have become a league-wide theme in a condensed regular season schedule, so maintaining the same level of quality while keeping players well rested will be key for the Black and Gold. From what they have showcased so far, this should not be an issue considering injuries and suspensions have seen guys deep on the depth chart step up for the club.

Defenders Razak Cromwell (ankle) and Mathieu Laurent (torn ACL) will be unavailable for the match, per the VIVA Health injury report.

For live match updates, follow @bhmlegion on Twitter, or tune in as the match will air live on My68 and ESPN+. Download the Legion FC app to preorder concessions on gameday, load the full season schedule straight into your calendar, and stay up to date with Legion FC.

The squad is back on the road next week for a trip through the Carolinas. On Wednesday, August 12, the team will be in Charlotte to take on the Independence at 6:00PM CT and then travel to face North Carolina FC on Saturday, August 15 at 6:00PM CT, as well. Catch both matches live on My68 or ESPN+.

Match Preview: Legion FC vs. Atlanta United 2 - Saturday, August 8


Birmingham Legion FC vs. Atlanta United 2

Saturday, August 8 - 6:30 PM Kickoff - 5:30 PM Gates

BBVA Field, Birmingham, Alabama

Watch - My68, ESPN+

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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.

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