Match Preview: Legion FC vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC - Sunday, October 20
With 33 down, and just one regular season match to go, Legion FC looks to lock down a spot in the playoffs on the final day of the season as the club hosts Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.
BHM has nine shutouts and has gone 9-3-4 in its last 16 games but is still fighting for the last spot in the postseason with one match left. If either Saint Louis FC or the Charleston Battery lose on Saturday, 10/19, Legion FC will have clinched a spot before playing Pitt on Sunday, but if both teams win, Birmingham will also need to win to advance.
Head Coach Tommy Soehn is excited that his squad gets to round out the regular season at home, and said, "while we grew as a team after the [Fourth of July] break, I feel like the fans grew with us, and that's been really exciting. When we travel around, we see some of the atmospheres, and I'd take our atmosphere any day of the week. Hopefully we put on a show to give them something to cheer about."
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC currently sit in 1st in the Eastern Conference standings and are still fighting off Nashville to earn the one-seed and home field advantage in the playoffs. The first time these two sides met, in Pittsburgh on June 29, the hosts won 4-1.
The 'Hounds have been the most consistently formidable team in the East this season, having only lost four games all year in 33 tries. They rely on a lockdown defense that has only allowed 30 goals and has 16 clean sheets (best in USL), but the team can score as well, putting in 57 goals themselves (third-most in East). The attack is led by Neco Brett's 13 goals (15th in USL), Steven dos Santos 65 shots (12th), and Kenardo Forbes nine assists (6th), 71 chances created (8th), and 1,760 passes (5th in the league).
Midfielder Daniel Johnson is appreciative of the fans and relishing the opportunity to clinch a playoff birth at BBVA Field. He said, "it's huge [to finish the season at home]. To have to go away at this point would be tough, just because we know the pressure that comes with these games, so with the fans at our back, being at home, being able to sleep in your bed, being able to take care of your nutrition is a huge help."
"It's kind of underrated how nice it is to be at home for these big games because you're in your environment, you're comfortable, and then you play on a field your familiar with, with fans that are supporting you. We expect sold out Sunday, and hope people come out as we make this last push because we really believe we can do it. When you look at the table in general, we're the last inaugural team that's still in a playoff spot, so just to get here is a huge accomplishment, but we don't feel satisfied with that moniker above our heads. We want to take that next step and show that the team that we were in the second half of the season we maybe should have been all season."
#9 Chandler Hoffman (ruptured PCL), #13 Tyler Savitsky (groin), #16 Daigo Kobayashi (knee), #22 Mathieu Laurent (torn ACL), #27 Eddie Opoku (ankle), and #30 Razak Cromwell (hamstring) are out for Legion FC, per the VIVA Health injury report. #33 Kyle Culbertson is also unavailable for selection due to a one-game suspension for a red card issued in the New York Red Bulls II match on Wednesday.
For live game updates, follow along on Twitter @bhmlegion, or watch live on My68 or ESPN+. Tickets for Sunday are available at bhmlegion.com/tickets or by calling the Legion FC Ticket Office at 205-791-7145. 2020 Season Tickets are available now, and information can be found HERE.
Also follow Legion FC's social media channels for updates on the playoff picture Saturday night and Sunday. If Birmingham advances to the playoffs, the first-round game would take place either at Ottawa Fury FC or at North Carolina FC on Wednesday, October 23. Keep an eye out for information regarding a watch party or streaming options.
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