Match Preview: Legion FC vs. North Carolina FC - Wednesday, September 2
Birmingham Legion FC vs. North Carolina FC
Wednesday, September 2 - 7:00PM CT Kickoff - 6:00PM CT Gates
BBVA Field - Birmingham, AL
Watch - My68, ESPN+
Legion FC returns to BBVA Field on Wednesday, September 2, to host Group G rival North Carolina FC for the first time this season. Both sides have earned a victory over one another since the USL Championship resumed play, with North Carolina defeating Birmingham by a score of 1-0 on August 1 and the latter returning the favor in a 2-0 win on August 15.
NCFC is the only side to defeat BHM so far this season, taking advantage of a weakened Black and Gold side that played 60+ minutes with 10-men in the first matchup. Tom Soehn's side avenged its loss the next time it visited Cary by securing a 2-0 win on the road. When looking at each club's form, Legion FC has been the side with more to cheer for, as Soehn's men have gone on a five game unbeaten run, a stretch of games in which they have outscored their opponents 14 goals to five. Dave Sarachan's side, however, are on the other end of the spectrum, losing three of its last four matches (including the 2-0 loss to BHM).
Despite having the likes of Robbie Kristo and Dre Fortune as goalscoring threats, North Carolina FC have not scored in any of its last three contests. The squad's struggles have found its way to the defensive end as well, as NCFC has conceded six goals during its three-match losing streak. Furthermore, the suspension of defender Akeem Ward bears more bad news for Dave Sarachan and his side. The silver lining for North Carolina, though, is the amount of matches they have in hand on the teams above them. NCFC has played seven matches (August 29's contest against Memphis 901 FC was postponed) compared to the Charlotte Independence's nine matches and Legion FC's 10 and will be looking to make a final push toward a playoff position. The top two team's in each group will earn a spot in the 2020 USL Championship playoffs.
BHM fans and players alike are flying heading into Wednesday's contest. In addition to the Black and Gold's five game unbeaten run, Tom Soehn's side is joint third in the USL Championship in goals scored (20), joint third in least amount of goals conceded (8), and leading the Eastern Conference in total points earned (21). Not to mention, Legion FC is heading into the fixture off the back of a 4-1 rout of Charlotte that saw forwards Neco Brett, Brian Wright, and Jaden Servania all mark their names on the scoresheet.
Similar to the lead up to North Carolina and Birmingham's meeting on August 15, the former will take the field as the fresher side. NCFC has played three games compared to BHM's five since the 15th and will have had a full week's rest come kickoff. Legion FC, however, had only three days after its 4-1 against the Independence to make the trip back to the Magic City and recover to try continuing its hot run of form.
Rotation will be key for Coach Soehn and Assistant Coach Khano Smith, as it has been the whole season, and the two minds behind the Black and Gold's success will have to call upon their bench once again as they will be without midfielder Eli Crognale due to a red card suspension. Going to the bench has not yielded a drop in quality for Legion FC this season, a trait that will need to stand true against a hungry North Carolina side looking to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg (groin) and defender Mathieu Laurent (ACL) will be unavailable for the match, per the VIVA Health Injury Report.
The squad is back on the road for a short trip up to Tennessee to face rival Memphis 901 FC on Saturday, September 5 at 7:00PM CT. For live match updates, follow @bhmlegion on Twitter, or tune in as the match will air live on My68 and ESPN+.
The last two home matches of the regular season are scheduled for Saturday, September 12 vs. Charlotte and then Saturday, September 26 vs. North Carolina. Get tickets at bhmlegion.com/tickets, by emailing [email protected], or by calling the Legion FC Ticket Office at 205-791-7145.
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